I am a two time breast cancer survivor. My first diagnosis came 16 years ago when I was only 40. My cancer returned 10 years later even though my original cancer was stage zero. I did not have a lump either time. Thatís why it is very important to have your mammograms. Early detection is the key.
What Iíve learned since my initial diagnosis: do not put things off; do not take things for granted. It is also very important to do your research. Itís better to make informative decisions based on knowledge and not fear. Iíve learned a lot about cancer and nutrition.
Iíve learned that sugar fuels the cancer cells.
I still continue to do my research, even today because I am an advocate regarding this disease. I tell people about Linked by Pink, Reach to Recovery, and my newly founded StringsforaCURE™ Foundation. I email tip sheets about suggestions, books and websites that one can go to so that they can decide what is best for them.
When you are diagnosed itís very important to take the time to put yourself first. Itís a long journey and itís best to have a positive outlook. This is the time to lean on family, friends and other survivors.
My first encounter in 1995 was not easy. I had a lumpectomy, lymph node removal, and 6.5 weeks of radiation. This rendered my arm numb for 9.5 years. The second time around, when I had my mastectomy it was much easier. I donít know if it was because I knew how to prepare better, or if it was the great surgeon I had in Pittsburgh, or if it was the healing service that I had prior to surgery. Either way, I had my surgery on a Monday, was home on a Tuesday and was out grocery shopping on a Friday. I did not have bruising or pain. After doing my research and consulting with a plastic surgeon regarding reconstruction and the complications that could arise from reconstructing a radiated breast area, I chose not to have it; I knew it wasnít for me. The second time around, I wanted things over as quickly as possible, so that my life could move on. I have not looked back and my recurrence was 5 years ago this past November.
My message is to surround yourself with the things you love. I did. I had family, friends, lots of prayers, jewelry, gardens and my beloved Phillies all helping me, even until this day.
Young Breast Cancer Survivor