#MamaStrong


YOUR STORIES

I was 28 newly divorced mother of two boys age 5 and 3. I had a wonderful job and starting a ‘new life’. I met the man of my dreams and we got pregnant. At our first OB appt. my doctor found a lump. (that lump I found myself back in 12/2012 but was told I was ‘too young to have breast cancer’) The next two weeks I went in for an ultrasound, biopsy and mammogram. I found out May 16, 2013 that I had Stage 2 triple positive breast cancer. I have a strong family history of breast cancer so I wasn’t necessarily shocked per say, however I had NO IDEA I could get it so young. I did 16 rounds of chemo pregnant. My last chemo was October 31, 2013 and our son was delivered November 11, 2013. Today I am grateful for my cancer journey because it taught me more life lessons then if I had never had it. Happy October Breast Cancer Awareness month!


 

I am a 12 year Breast Cancer Survivor of stage 2B with mets to my lymphs. Had bilateral mastectomy with 23 nodes removed, chemo, radiation and 5 years of Arimidex and Aromasin. I struggle with some left arm lymphedema. I did not reconstruct and do not wear breast prothesis and I am comfortable with this decision as is my husband. I am lucky to have a body shape that does not reveal I am without breasts. I was sadden to hear of your breast cancer, but am so happy to see you are recovering. It’s a very bumpy journey and it’s like being in a foreign country, not speaking the language therefore not always sure of the road map you have been given to follow. Thank God for my husband and my 5 children to always be there to support and love me. Elin your books kept me company during the chemo times, the waiting times for test results, taking test, doctor appointments, and now just to celebrate being a Survivor. Your writings are beautiful, inspiring journeys. Love ya!! -Kristine M.


 

I worked for over 30 years as an Operating Room Nurse with much experience both inside and outside the Operating Room. I contracted Level 1, intraductal Carcinoma of my left Breast. I was treated with a lumpectomy followed by 6 weeks of Radiation Therapy with good results. Thirteen years later at age 73 I again contracted a second tumor in the same breast and elected to have a mastectomy with reconstruction. The same time I was being treated I also underwent a left Total Knee reconstruction. Three weeks after that I had expander for the prosthesis placed and in another several weeks had the reconstruction with a reduction on the right side so as to match the new prosthesis. I have done well and recently had my other knee replaced. In retrospect, I often wish I had elected to have my other breast removed and reconstructed so as to be able to take HRT for my killer hot flashes. I now advise any friends who have breast cancer to opt for the double procedure. I am now well and healthy. -Kathleen


 

I had a double mastectomy on September 30, 2014 at MGH. My surgeons were awesome Dr. Gadd and Dr. Colwell. I was originally diagnosed in 2010 with DCIS. Had a lumpectomy and was reccomended to have radiation and take Taxomifen. After much consideration, I opted not to do the radiation and not to take the Taxomifen. I decided to be monitored by diagnostic Mamogram every six months. All was well for a couple of years, then they found an area of concern and recommended to have a biopsy. After going through the whole ordeal already back in 2010, I decided I couldn’t go through any more biopsies or waiting for results and the unknowns…I decided to eliminate the problem by having a double mastectomy. I’m making it sound simplier then it was – it was not an easy decision. However, I was happy to have great doctors and facilities so close to home! -Michele M.


 

My mother, diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her bones after 10 years in remission, died at the age of 69.  My sister was diagnosed 6 months later and after treatment, her cancer returned to her liver and lung.  I received my own breast cancer diagnosis, at the age of 36.  I never knew the strength I had inherited until I became fiercely determined to beat the disease that had plagued my family.  Despite one insanely ridiculous surgical opinion, “…you know breasts are important to men…,” I persisted and found two surgeons to perform a double mastectomy and reconstruction.  My sister passed away a day after her 49th birthday. This Aug, I will have survived 13 years and in Sept, I will turn 50 years young (and wise). After I gained enough distance, I wrote a memoir to share how a series of negative events perfectly transformed my life. I wish you peace, Elin.  Thank you for this forum to share my story–with hopes of inspiring others to believe everything happens for a reason. -Linda C.


 

I discovered my BRCA2 gene in 2007 after my paternal aunt was diagnosed with melanoma & breast cancer. I decided to go with surveillance instead of prophylactic surgery. I had my regular mammogram on May 19, 2015 when they found a new nodule using 3D. I had a biopsy & was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma 6 mm on May 26, 2015. The tumor is ER & PR + so I will also need to have my ovaries removed. I’m still waiting on a surgery date with Dr Richard White at Levine Cancer Institute. I have opted for a bilateral mastectomy with implant reconstruction. The weekend before my mammogram I visited the beach with a group of wonderful ladies. One of these ladies had breast cancer & another one lost her sister to breast cancer so this was a topic of conversation over the weekend. Another friend was reading The Matchmaker & let me borrow it. I just finished it & was shocked when I read Mrs Hilderbrand’s story! I’m happy to hear that she is doing well after the complications from her infection. -Leigh B.


 

I gave my mother a 2 year breast cancer survivor your novel Castaways – SHE LOVED IT !!! #mamastrong – Natasha S.


I just finished treatment as well. Best wishes for you to get and stay healthy! Thank you for your books- they are all wonderful! – Jayne B.


I am also a breast cancer survivor of five years now and love your books, they have kept me company through some very difficult times, thank you! – Patricia H.


Out of nowhere, like a sledgehammer is how my husband describes it. One day I’m giving it all in my daily Spinning class, the next day I’m learning the most important acronyms of my life — DCIS, IDC, E+, Her2-, stage 2A….I quickly learned it is much harder to be a survivor than to be in treatment. After I finished treatment, I finally lifted up my head, took a step out of my get-me-to-the-other-side-of-this-treatment mode, and started to process all that had happened to me and my family in the past 10 months. I work hard every day to trust my life and my body again. -Erin S.


I am SO thrilled to see you giving back in such an amazing way!! I was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 years ago at the age of 27- 5 weeks before my daughter turned 2. I also underwent a bilateral mastectomy, was lucky to have immediate reconstruction go well, 8 rounds of chemo and 5 years on Tamoxifen. About two and a half years ago I also had a hysterectomy and oopherectomy to help protect myself from cancer. I was blessed that I live three hours away from the Mayo health system and had each of my surgeries up there. However I was also blessed to have a hometown (Abben Cancer Center in Spencer, IA) 25 miles away where I could do my chemo every other week. The people there are amazing- and it is there that I met some of my favorite nurses and social worker! A year after I went through my journey- I accepted a job with the American Cancer Society and now spend my days working within the communities to organize the local Relay For Life events and FIGHT BACK! Thank You! -Dana K.


I was diagnosed on July 25, 2005. I had gone in for a routine mammogram and several pictures and an ultrasound later, the doctor told me, “I am afraid you have breast cancer.” The word DEATH literally ran through my mind. I was so fortunate to have a good doctor who immediately read my mind and reassured me that I would not die because we had caught the cancer early. I was scheduled for a biopsy the next morning to confirm her initial diagnosis of DCIS. I had the official diagnosis 4 days later, and thus began a whirlwind of doctors’ appointments, MRIs, ultrasounds, blood tests, decisions, discussions, and more decisions. I was very lucky to meet some of the best doctors at The Breast Care Center at The George Washington University Hospital. They still watch out for me. In January, I went for a routine mammogram and must return in July. I pray that all is still well. But I know my doctors and friends will be there for me once again if it is not. -Mirta A.


My mother first battled lung cancer in 2004, having surgery at MGH and chemo. In 2001, she developed endometrial cancer, had surgery at BMC. In 2008, she discovered her own malignant tumor in her l breast. She wasn’t due for a mammogram, but she fought for it. It had already spread to 4 lymph nodes. She had a lumpectomy and a revision, with axillary node removal at Brockton hospital. She then developed a port infection. A follow up mammogram discovered an in situ tumor in the r breast. She underwent another lumpectomy, finished chemo and radiation in 2010.She never lost her ability to laugh at her impossibly bad luck, to have so many unrelated cancers.The most amazing thing that she said was that the pink ribbon logo is not appropriate. She felt that the symbol of breast cancer survival should be diamonds, because you must be stronger than anything else on earth to get through it. She made lots of friends and was grateful to all the professionals she met. -Malinda, in memory of Emily


My story is not about a family member but about people I have come to think of as family. I am an oncology nurse at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. A small section of our inpatient unit is a reading nook. The nurses all donate books for patients to read while in the hospital. They are welcome to keep them or return them, whichever they choose. Patients often ask for recommendations and I love suggesting Elin’s books. Such great stories, easy to follow and take your mind to a much better place. I can’t wait to read “The Rumor” and bring it to work with me to pass on to a patient looking to pass time with a great book! -Nancy


I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in October, 2013. Two months later, I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction at Penn (Abramson Cancer Center). I was 45. When I was 13 years old, I received chemo and heavy chest radiation for stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a treatment that saved my life, yet likely caused the breast cancer. People have asked me if I am angry that the treatment caused the long-term side effect of breast cancer. Not at all. I feel so fortunate to have access to wonderful doctors, state of the art treatments, and to have been diagnosed at a time when these cancers were treatable. I don’t think I have lived my life any differently than if I did not have cancer. (OK, I confess I used the cancer as an excuse to get out of a few swim practices as a teen, and definitely milked it when letting my husband and kids deal with the household duties!) P.S. I have read your current book every summer and my post-cancer “reward” was a trip to Nantucket! Stay strong! -Katie.


 

I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer on 6/21/12 at the age of 35. Three out of the four women in my family have been diagnosed with breast cancer. My Mom is a 20 yr survivor, myself, and then my sister, Christine was dx in 3/2014 with bilateral breast cancer. I have one other sister who had a preventive double mastectomy after Christine was diagnosed. I choose to have a double mastectomy w/lat dorsi flap & expanders. I had my exchange surgery in 1/2013 & got squishy silicone implants compared to the uncomfortable expanders. After my surgery I wanted to help other women so I formed a Facebook group called Get The Pink Out and have been putting together hospital essential bags for women have mastectomy surgery. The bag contains items I had with me or wish I had with me while in the hospital and recovering at home. All items in the bag are donated from an Amazon wish list I have set up. -Colleen


 

On August 8th 2011 my husband and I dropped our first born off at college. By lunch time the next day we found out I had stage 3 colon cancer. I had 25% of my colon removed that day.The daughter that we dropped off at college the day before, started rush for sorority recruitment. When she would call me every afternoon to check and a tell me all about recruitment, I would hit that morphine drip 10 times, hoping by some miracle I would get extra drugs!! Listening to a college girl talk about recruitment was a great distraction from my problems. I think EVERY mother should get the morphine drip when you take a your oldest baby to college. I don’t recommend the circumstances, but still, it helps!! I did 6 months of treatment 5 rounds of five straight days of chemo and 25 days off, five on, 25 off etc. I am NEOD (no evidence of disease) but they won’t use the word “remission” just yet. Feeling great and thankful to have beat it! -Michelle


It’s not really my story, but my mother-in-law’s. She discovered she had breast cancer shortly after her husband died, leaving her with a 4-year-old, a 15-year-old and two other children mostly grown. This was in 1974. She had the cancerous breast removed, but opted not have reconstructive surgery. I guess back then, survival was more of a priority than appearance. She just used a “fake boob” in her bra. Years later, when my daughter was about 2, she went exploring in her grandmother’s dresser and found an extra “boob.” She brought it downstairs and looked at it, looked at my mother-in-law and then looked at it again. “Nonni,” she said, puzzled. “Boobie fall off?” I think we laughed for days. My mother-law just turned 84. She is a 41-year breast cancer survivor. I hope I gave you a chuckle, Elin. Your books are fabulous. -Louise


 

Tell your story and my publisher will send a box of my books to your favorite cancer center.