Desiree: Experiencing Two Breast Cancer Diagnoses

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. I was referred for a biopsy, which came back positive for breast cancer.

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 (if you will) in many ways, but specifically in that high-risk specialists began screening me for breast cancer through bi-yearly mammograms, sonograms, and MRIs at age 31 because my Mother was first diagnosed at age 41. Therefore, my breast cancer was caught early, before it spread.

Cathy: Paying It Forward

After I got over the initial shock of my diagnosis, after I recovered from my 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.

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.

My journey started in 2011. I went for my yearly mammogram at the same mammography facility that I have gone to for years.

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.

Jo Taylor: 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. We were puzzled by that, since reconstruction prolongs physical recovery and sometimes results in complications.

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.

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