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Breast and Ovarian Cancer Stories

SHARE is dedicated to providing resources and giving help to women affected by breast and ovarian cancer. Symptoms, stories, and advice are all available in our survivor stories below.  If you'd like to tell your story, please contact Beth Kling at bkling@sharecancersupport.org.

Jo: Lat-Flap Reconstruction

A recent article in the New York Times referred to a study showing that women who'd had reconstructive surgery reported higher quality of life than women who opted not to have reconstruction after a mastectomy. I was puzzled by that, since reconstruction prolongs physical recovery and sometimes results in complications. So SHARE asked Jo Taylor, a British blogger and the creator of the After Breast Cancer Diagnosis website, about her experience with so-called lat-flap reconstruction. Read More >

 

Gennie: Stage III Ovarian Cancer Survivor

Who is a cancer survivor? A survivor is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis, the very first time you hear the word cancer, through the remainder of your life. Read More >

 

Elizabeth: Stage I Invasive Carcinoma

My name is Elizabeth Thornhill, and I have been a mammographer at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York for 14 years and worked at the Breast Examination Center of Harlem for the past 6 years. Read More >

 

Kelli Parker: Estrogen Receptor Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my story. People's stories are so different despite the common thread of MBC. I don't even know where to start..it feels like I've experienced a decade of living in the past 11 months. Read More >

 

How I Survived Triple Negative Breast Cancer

I found the lump on my birthday, October 25th, 2014. It wasn't a happy 43rd. August 2014 I had my routine mammogram and a week later the letter from the hospital arrived; everything was "normal." Apparently, I have dense tissue in my breasts so the mammogram didn't detect the lump. (Ladies, if you have dense tissue in your breasts – ask your radiologist - don't stop at just a mammogram!) As soon as I felt it, I knew the mass didn't belong in my body; fear enveloped me. Read More >

 

Lisa: Stage IV Ovarian Cancer

She calls it her journey, but it's not a journey that she ever expected to take. Lisa Franklin has always been meticulous about tending to her health. She never missed a wellness visit. She saw her primary care physician and her gynecologist regularly. And when she started to experience some puzzling symptoms she went for a checkup immediately. Read More >

 

Robin's Story

In 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at the age of 27. This is not something that you expect to hear at this age. After talking with Dr. Makhoul at UAMS and getting a plan I was ready to hit this head on. I knew that I was fighting this disease for my two boys at home that were 6 and 3. I wanted to fight harder so I could be around to watch them grow up. Read More >

 

Cathy: Paying It Forward

After I got over the initial shock of my diagnosis, after I recovered from your surgery, after chemotherapy was in my rearview mirror, something miraculous happened. I began getting on with my life. But I was forever changed, and in many ways, that was a good thing. For one, after my ordeal, I appreciated more, especially the little things. Read More >

 

Maria Cristina

My name is Maria Cristina Hernández (born in 1955). In May 2005 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, stage III. On June 1st, I suffered (yes ... suffered) a tremendous surgery. For 45 days I had a catheter and after that I started a series of 6 severe chemo sessions. Read More >

 

Mary: "My chart reads N.E.D."

My Mother died of breast cancer in 1998, after a brave, 14-year battle, at age 55. As much as I still miss her every day, the silver lining is that she became my guardian angel... Read More >

 

Megan: HER2-positive breast cancer

When women call the SHARE helpline and tell me they've just been diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer, I know how scared they are. Often they've consulted Dr. Google and learned that HER2-positive cancers are especially aggressive and likely to recur. I know, because Dr. Google told me the same thing seven years ago. Read More >

 

Judith: Stage IIIc: Epithelial Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer

In September of 1999, while exercising, I had acid reflux every time I bent at the waist. When this continued for around three weeks, I made an appointment with my gynecologist. Years before, I had a hysterectomy for fibroids, but asked that my ovaries be left in if they were healthy so I could have a normal menopause. They were healthy. Thirteen years later in 1999, I had visions of an ovarian tumor pressing on my stomach causing acid reflux. Read More >

 

Linda: Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer

Hello!  I was diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer on March 31, 1993 at the age of 45 -- a full 20 years ago! Read More >

 

Desiree: Two breast cancer diagnoses but very different experiences

At the age of 38, I had my annual screening mammogram (provided by my employer to all female employees, even those under 40) and it detected changes in the calcifications in my right breast. These changes were a red flag. Read More >

 

Meet Eileen

Read journal entry excerpts from my original diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer to 53 chemo treatments later! Read More >

 

Marie: August Interrupted

On August 12, 2011, I heard these six words while sitting half-naked in an exam room at St. Barnabas Hospital - "We are dealing with Breast Cancer."  Just like that, my doctor didn't beat around the bush or try to avoid the inevitable. She knew from one look at my ultrasound that it was cancer.  Speechless, my mother and I stared at each other for a few seconds and then all I could come up with to console her was, "Don't worry, mom, you are going to die before me." I'm not sure if she found comfort in that, but we both laughed and I knew that finding humor was the only way to get through this. Read More >

 

Roberta Hufnagel, Metastatic Support Group Facilitator

I'm a social worker and psychotherapist and I'm now 70 years old.  I was just 36 when told I needed a mastectomy and a year of chemo.  I learned about SHARE 5 years later and became a group facilitator soon after.   In 1986 SHARE began the only metastatic breast cancer support group in NYC, and perhaps the only one in the country.  I became the facilitator and have led the group ever since.  SHARE now offers three groups, for women living with metastatic breast cancer. Two groups (which I facilitate) meet weekly and the third group meets monthly. Two of the groups meet in SHARE's NYC office and the other group is conducted via conference call.  The phone group enables women to have the advantages of peer support if they are either too far from Manhattan or are unable to come into the office.   Read More >

 

Gladys: It's Not Our Moms' Breast Cancer Anymore

Forty-five years ago, when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, a woman had few choices. Biopsies were done surgically rather than with aspiration needles. Mastectomies involved removing the pectoral muscles and axillary lymph nodes along with the breast, and recovery was painful. Many women developed lymphedema, and compression sleeves to control the swelling were not available. Back then, mastectomy bras were awful-looking, and prosthetic breast forms were ugly and uncomfortable. SHARE, with its hot line staffed with breast-cancer survivors, did not exist. Read More >

 

Mimi: Being a Lesbian with Breast Cancer

In 2006, while in my 20s, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As many people know first-hand, a cancer diagnosis changes your life overnight. I went from being, I thought, a healthy young singer-actress with a day job, to being a full-time medical patient who still had to hold onto that day job for dear life because I needed the money and health insurance. And, once again, the difficulty of being a lesbian in a heterosexual world reared its ugly head. Read More >

 

Cheryl: Ovarian Cancer, Stage 1

My name is Cheryl and I am one of the few women that are diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer.  The cancer was found as a result of a follow-up CT scan I had for kidney stones.  When my CT scan results came back, a cyst was noted on my left ovary, so I was referred to a gynecologist by my physician.


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Annie Talks about Her Experience with Clinical Trials

Annie Ellis spoke at the Scientific Research Symposium of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund on November 13, 2010. Read More >

 

Marsha's Story

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 1999, a month before my 57th birthday.  My tumor was found when I went for my annual mammogram.  I was lucky they found it when they did because it was small enough for me to have a lumpectomy and just radiation.    Read More >

 

Barbara: Breast AND Ovarian Cancer Survivor

I always knew that someday I would hear the words "you have cancer."  My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44 in 1973, and was treated by having a radical mastectomy. She looked like the famous NY Times magazine cover.  The following year she had a reoccurrence in the remaining breast tissue and at that time went through radiation.  She remained free of cancer for the next 5 years, but started having reoccurrences and died in 1986.  Other than my mother, there was no one on my maternal side of the family with a history of breast cancer or any other type of cancer. But she had been born in Germany and many of her family were killed in concentration camps.  Read More >

 

A Tribute

This is hard to write, because it's not a survivor story. Since I became the Director of SHARE's Metastatic Program last April, five of our hotline volunteers have died: Kristen Martinez, Lilla Romeo, Judy Feder, and Alex Weiler from metastatic breast cancer, and Jean Brase from ovarian cancer. Several women who participated in our support groups have also died. We grieve for them all. Read More >

 

Annie's update May 2010

Remission #3 continues at almost 2 1/2 years! (More than twice as long as first remission) Woohoo! Was it the latest surgery, the chemo assay that helped us select the latest chemotherapy, the latest treatment itself or the vaccine clinical trial? Or maybe it was a little bit of everything? No one really knows for sure.  What I do know is that I am a very lucky girl. There are no one-size-fits-all answers regarding treatment, diet, lifestyle and coping.  Everyone responds differently.

Life has been good and busy.  I'm preparing for my older daughter's wedding coming up soon.  In 2007, I wasn't sure that I'd live long enough to see this day--and now I lost some weight, picked out a fantastic dress and plan to do a lot of dancing at the reception. Even though things are going well, I am determined more than ever to stay involved with the advocacy community and current with the latest medical research.  My focus is doctor/patient communication and the decision-making process in the recurrent/resistant setting.

Hugz,

Annie Read More >

 

Finding the Balance Point

My healing process from cancer took 9 months. In this period I have changed dramatically, physically as well as mentally. But while the physical change was structured, visible and very expectable ('you receive chemo – your hair falls out'), the mental change was and still is unexpected. To my great surprise, I found out that coping with physical symptoms was relatively easy for me. I got used to not having hair, to the metallic taste in my mouth, to the sore muscles, to the scars and even to the absence of body parts. I got used to it because I understood that this was the price I would have to pay in order to reach my goal – my ultimate goal – to be healthy. Read More >

 

Jeanne: I Had Reconstruction

When I realized I needed to have a double mastectomy, I couldn't decide whether or not to have reconstruction as well. I talked to a friend of a friend who had opted not to have reconstruction; she was very comfortable with her decision, but she described herself as concave rather than just flat. I didn't think I could handle being concave. At that point, I called SHARE's Helpline. Read More >

 

Cancer as a Turning Point

My story begins in June 2008. On a lovely Saturday afternoon, while celebrating my young son's fifth birthday, I noticed that there was a big lump in my left breast. Read More >

 

Debbie: Ovarian Cancer and BRCA1+

My history with ovarian cancer began three years before my diagnosis, when my younger sister was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer at the age of 46 in August 2003. I was in the waiting room when her surgeon came out, and the first thing she said to me was that I should have my ovaries removed. This startled me since I was expecting to hear about my sister, who had just had lengthy surgery.  Read More >

 

Megan: I Chose Not to Have Reconstruction

I was lucky. Because I had my bilateral mastectomy after chemotherapy, I had ample time to consider my options, a luxury many breast cancer patients don't have. My breast surgeon encouraged me to consult a plastic surgeon about reconstruction. I was given a good deal of useful information: brochures, photographs, a lecture and slide show. But I also wanted to know about the alternative—no reconstruction. I wanted to know what it looked like, how it felt, what it was like to wear breast forms, whether it was conspicuous to go without them, what clothing options were available—everything! Read More >

 

Chrystine

Something was definitely wrong. In April 1998, I began experiencing recurring bouts of fever, diarrhea, and fatigue. I made repeated calls to my internist to report my symptoms. Each time, I was told I was sick again because I was a teacher and was around a lot of students with germs. New symptoms appeared…bloating in my lower abdomen with continued, worsening fatigue. My distended lower abdomen seemed odd considering I was very fit and slender. Read More >

 

Jennie's Story

The idea of breast cancer wasn't new to me when I felt a lump in my breast three months after I missed my scheduled mammogram in 2000 (my cousin had been treated for breast cancer and I had done walks to raise money for the disease). Still, I didn't think it applied to me so I waited a couple of weeks before I called my doctor. He sent me for a mammogram two days later, and they discovered a mass. I had a biopsy, which came back positive, and then was told I probably shouldn't follow through on my plan to start a new job. Still, I wasn't shocked; I took it in stride. Read More >

 

Carmen's Story

We regret to announce that Carmen Diaz passed away on Saturday, January 10, after an 11-year struggle with ovarian cancer. We miss her terribly. Read More >

 

Eileen: Blogging about her experiences

I was diagnosed October 25th, 2005 with an aggressively-growing estrogen-driven breast cancer on my right breast. I had a (big) lumpectomy and a bilateral reduction at the same time, ACT for the chemo and 5 weeks of radiation. Read More >

 

Marilyn: Supporting Other Breast Cancer Survivors

I'm a 19-year breast cancer survivor, and I co-facilitate two SHARE support groups in Queens.  These groups help women get the support and information they need to deal with breast cancer. The members are really good about helping each other out -- we all work together, and many members become buddies to other members.  When a new person comes, I try to get a feel for what she might need, and that's how I select who's going to be her buddy.  Read More >

 

Shirley: What I Get from SHARE

When I came to SHARE, I was warmly welcomed by the people here, and I more or less felt at home right away.  So I have been volunteering for SHARE for about two years now. Read More >

 

Annie: How I Manage Ovarian Cancer

On the morning of my birthday in December 2003, I looked into the mirror and thought to myself, "Damn, forty looks good on me!"  Six months later I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Read More >

 

Lilla: How I Became a Breast Cancer Advocate

I never meant to be an advocate. Even though my first breast cancer was in 1995 with a recurrence in 2000, I didn't realize until 2005 that individuals could be Breast Cancer Advocates.  I somehow thought there were professional lobbyists that roamed the halls of Congress and the Senate asking for monies and favorable legislation. Read More >

 

Kathy: How I Deal with the Fear of Metastatic Breast Cancer

My name is Kathy and I have been metastatic for 9 1/2 years. I have been one of the very fortunate women who had a miraculous response after taking Taxol and Herceptin for several years. I have been "NED" (no evidence of disease) for several years and have been off all medication for two years. Read More >

 

Grace: Why I Volunteer on SHARE's Hotline

I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 1993 and it was a great shock to me.  I came to SHARE even before I had my surgery because I needed to talk to someone.  Then around 2001, I got back in touch with SHARE to volunteer, and I've been working on the Helpline ever since. Read More >

 
 
 
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