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The Frenshe Community Shares How Breast Cancer Changed Their Lives

10.14.2020 — Ashley

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month, and here at Frenshe we’re dedicated to providing information and resources on the disease. As we continue to highlight breast cancer facts and education, we wanted to pass over the mic to those who’ve helped us get started—our audience. Today, you’ll learn from five women who were willing to share their experiences with breast cancer. It’s very important for us to have an open platform where we can discuss how breast cancer and other diseases can affect ourselves, our families, and all of our loved ones. These are their stories. 

“Four and a half years ago my mom went in for her annual mammogram. This was her first time getting the 3D mammogram and a spot was discovered. She went in for additional tests and she had a small cancerous mass. Fortunately, the mass was discovered at stage zero and minimally invasive surgery was done for the removal. My mom did not require chemotherapy, only radiation. She has been cancer-free for almost 5 years!

One year after my mom’s cancer was discovered, a good family friend went in for her annual mammogram. She had the 2D mammogram and her results came back negative. About a month later she was doing a sec check and noticed a lump. She consulted with my mom and my mom recommended getting the 3D mammogram. Our friend went in for the 3D mammogram and it came back positive for a suspicious spot. After additional testing, she came back positive for cancer and was at stage 2. She needed up having to have extensive surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Fortunately, she is now 4 years cancer-free.

I strongly recommend the 3D mammogram even though it might be an additional cost, it is completely worth the fee.”—Kristee M.

“In 2013, my Mom discovered a lump in her breast. She quickly called her doctor, got in,  and they decided it was concerning. Mother’s Day was a busy day for my siblings, there’s four of us in total. So we decided to celebrate the next day which was a Monday. Half of us went to Ross Cancer Breast Center in the next town over & the other half set up the party back home. My two older brothers, my Dad, my Mom, and I went to a back room where we were told to wait. The song “It’s My Turn Now” blared on the speakers and we laughed hysterically. We shook our heads and sang the opposite to each other, but somehow we still knew. The doctor came in and broke the news. He left the room to let us have a moment and we all cried together. The next hour and a half consisted of planning chemotherapy which would start the next week.

 We drove home, my Mom and I together. Everybody else separated to get things for the party. We talked through canceling our Florida vacation, which was scheduled for two months away, & to figure out life with cancer. We got home to my sister, niece and nephews, and my sister-in-law. They had decorated magically and wrapped all the presents to celebrate. It was the hardest Mother’s Day we had ever faced. We found so much comfort in just being together that night and knowing whatever happened, we’d do it as a family. My Mom worked her whole way through treatments, providing for our family. We even ended up being able to go on vacation despite chemotherapy treatments.  Her last round of chemo was Christmas Eve and it was powerful to hear her ring the bell that night. It was a ride, but we came through and she’s been cancer-free for 7 years and counting!”—Hayley W. 

 

 

“Two and a half years ago my Mom, Christina, went in for a standard mammogram. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to her, but soon after the mammogram, she was called into her doctor’s office and was told she had 5 suspicious areas in her breasts that needed to be screened further for breast cancer. This came as a shock to both my Mom and our entire family. It was one of those moments where I was thinking to myself “how can such a horrible thing happen to such an amazing person?” But, if you know my Mom, she’s a fighter. She went in for biopsies on all 5 suspicious areas, had over 25 x-rays, several ultrasounds, and following the results of the biopsies, she later had two surgeries on both breasts to remove cancer tissues. She had two sections removed from her left breast and a partial mastectomy on her right breast. The duration of all these appointments and surgeries was just over one year. Following her surgeries, the Cancer Clinic in Vancouver, Canada recommended that she does not undergo radiation unless the cancerous tissues come back. This is something that my Mom gets screened regularly now. Overall, it is super important to have regular checkups with a doctor. If my Mom hadn’t gone in for her mammogram, the cancer may not have been caught until it was too late. Thankfully this story has a happy ending, but sadly this isn’t the case for everyone.”—Tamia O.

“My name is Leah and I’m 18 years old. Breast cancer has been in my family for almost as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, it’s presence in my life is one of the most prominent memories I have from my childhood and it still lingers today.  My mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 10 years old and since has had three reoccurrences, most recently in January of this year.She has had to adapt to living with metastatic breast cancer and her outlook on life is inspiring to me as her daughter and hopefully now to anyone reading this article in need of some support or guidance. She now views life as a privilege and getting older as a privilege and that’s something we can all carry in ourselves no matter our situation. It’s a scary and traumatizing disease but my mother is proof that it is possible to battle through the pain and live a fulfilling life.”—Leah F.

 

“In 1987, my mother an emotional trauma/shock, and because of that, she became very tired. At the time, she worked as a packager for Channel’s perfume. Her work was very tiring as well, so she often had to be on sick leave. And all of this lasted for a year.

In June 1988, she was operated on her right carpal tunnel because of some pain in her arm. At the time, the doctors thought that it was the cause of her pain. But in September 1988, after her 28th birthday, my mother noticed a lump under her right breast, which was around 1.5 inches. She went to see her gynecologist right away. She was told that it was a benign cyst, but he still did a puncture. But a few days later, her gynecologist told her that there were cancerous cells and that she should go to Paris and see an oncologist in Saint Louis Hospital.

My mom was scared of death at this point, and she thought there was no hope left for her.

She was told, in Paris, that she indeed had breast cancer. In the span of 8 days, the size of the lump multiplied and measured 3 inches. She was operated on, but her oncologist told her that she was supposed to go under a mastectomy because there were some ramifications. She also had to do several sessions of chemotherapy. At the time, the oncologist knew that this kind of breast cancer was a sarcoma – which was (and maybe still is) a deadly form of cancer – and told my grandmother, my mother’s mom, that she only had 6 months left to live.

Chemotherapy was the worst experience for my mother. She was scared of losing her hair, and not being feminine enough. Her first session was in November 1988. She remembers that it was very painful, and a single session lasted 3 days. This was also very tiring for her. The second session was in December 1988, and Christmas that year was awful. She had almost no more red blood cells, and there were some talks about blood transfusion. Her third and last session was in January 1989. Then, in February 1989, she had 30 sessions of radiotherapy.

And although her doctor told her mother that she only had 6 months left to live, she fought for her life. But mostly she fought for her 5-year-old boy, whom she loved more than anything. Thanks to the support of her mother and her son, she got through it. She was a true miracle at that time, and her oncologist still told her that more than 30 years later when he retired. She was not supposed to survive, but she did.

She was in remission, and she even had breast reconstruction in 1990. Those years were the tougher of her life – her husband divorced her because of her cancer as he thought she was no longer a woman – but she got through it and in 1999, she had me, her baby girl. She did not let her cancer defines her life, but she still raises awareness around her and she was always opened about what happened to her.

She would like to say to every person who is affected by breast cancer that they are not alone. If they can have the support of their loved ones, they should accept it to make those times less difficult to bear.”—Sophia N. (Mother, Yveline N.)

To learn more about breast cancer or to receive additional support, visit Breastcancer.org.
Ashley