I am 34 and a four time cancer survivor. My journey began at the age of 16 when I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After having invasive stomach surgery to determine how far the cancer had spread, I was given the option to have radiation or chemotherapy. I chose to have the 30 rounds of radiation. Fortunately, I had a positive attitude believing I would beat cancer. My oncologist gave me a clean bill of health soon after I finished treatment.
I continued my routine oncology checkups and scans every 3 months. Unfortunately, after 3 years, the Hodgkin’s returned. I was only 19. This time, the only option was chemotherapy. Fortunately, I was attending the University of Florida and was able to have treatment there, while still attending classes and working. Through nine months of chemo, support of family and friend’s, and a positive attitude, I beat cancer yet again.I returned to living life to it’s fullest. Of course, making sure I continued with my oncology follow-ups.
In 2009, after 10 years of being cancer free, my oncologist reminded me that an unfortunate risk factor of radiation to my chest (that I had at 16) was breast cancer. As a precaution, I was sent for numerous scans (PEM, PET, MRI). The breast MRI was the only test that came back positive. A small mass was found. I was told I could “monitor it”, but thankfully I followed my gut and had it biopsied. It was invasive ductal carcinoma, a common type of breast cancer. Through careful consideration, I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. This was a very challenging surgery both emotionally and physically. Part of my womanhood was being taken from me. However, this would be the best option to beat cancer again. A year later, I had bilateral reconstruction, took tamoxifen, and now only have a minimal risk of recurrence.
In late 2013, a mass was found near my thyroid. After biopsies and following guidance on my doctors, I had a total thyroidectomy in May 2014. The results came back as stage 1 papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. I will undergo 1 round of radioactive iodine and will have beat cancer for the 4th time!
These challenges made me realize that cancer does not discriminate, but a positive attitude does help heal. My journey now is to help others through theirs.
4 time Breast Cancer Survivor,
My Name is Lorna G. Johnson and I am a 65 year old Wife, Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt and friend to many. In July 1997, I went in for my annual physical which included a mammogram and I received a call for a repeat. The result was a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma insitu stage 0. The cells were all over the breast and after consultations and recommendations, the decision was made to have a mastectomy of the left breast. The procedure was named tran flap and while I was on the table with the pathologist checking to verify if any lymph nodes were infected, they agreed to proceed with the reconstruction. It was recommended that I take the drug tymactofin for 5 years to avoid return of the disease, and I refused to do so. In a couple of years, I decided to have a complete hysterectomy and I lived with close monitoring healthy and cancer free for 15 years.
Two years ago, I noticed that I had a mass in my cleavage and when I went for my imaging, the results were clean. I do regular monthly exams and I was sure that I had something I did not have before. As a result of this fact, I sought out a consultation with a Breast surgeon who assured me that she would check all avenues, but assured me that I probably had some fatty tissues which she would remove as they never become malignant. She sent me for further imaging of the area and did a biopsy. Lo and behold, the cancer had returned and now I was at a stage 1. I did the Braca Test to see if I was carrying the gene, and it proved negative, but I was diagnosed with HER2 Positive. A team of specialists was put together and I had the surgery to remove the mass, followed by 5 rounds of chemotherapy, 38 rounds of radiation and 12 months of Herceptin. Today, I have been declared clean and the cancer is in remission.
The treatment of breast cancer has improved tremendously in the past two decades and I am thankful that I have the resources to maintain a healthy body. My life style has been changed and today I choose very carefully the foods that I ingest, the activities that I participate in and I am an advocate for Breast Cancer.
Breast Cancer continues to take the lives of many women and men. I encourage every one who has breast to “know your bodies” and be the best advocate that you can be. Early detection does save lives.
Lorna G. Johnson
2 Time Breast Cancer Survivor
My name is Abbe Felton I am 63 years young and I am a 14yr. breast cancer survivor.
My journey began in the year 2000…Welcome to the millennium Abbe “You Have Breast Cancer”
To this day I’m really not sure what prompted me to go for the mammogram that saved my life. It was on May 31st. 2000 that I went for what I thought would be a routine mammogram,however, it turned out to be
anything but routine. While waiting to be told all was fine and I can leave… the technician returned and said I would need to have an ultra sound of my right breast…they suggested I do it right then and there. I remember driving home and every so often staring out the corner of my eye at that big brown envelope that contained my films and report. Before getting home I nervously pulled off the road and took out the report. All that I could see were the words “Suspicious Mass”. When I returned home I was told that my family doctor had called and after reading the report from the imaging center he set up an appointment for me to see a Breast Surgeon..Dr. Kathleen Minnick. From this day on life was no longer the same for me. It now consisted of more and more mammograms, and eventually a biopsy.
Three days after the biopsy I was told by Dr. Minnick that I had breast cancer stage 1 and she along with me, my family and the other doctors she was going to team up with we would fight this battle together.
My mastectomy of the right breast was scheduled for July 7,2000 . I had decided to have the reconstruction done as soon as possible. I was fortunate to have Dr. Alan Pillersdorf as my plastic surgeon and he
gave me several options. I chose to have a breast implant but first I would have to have an “expander” put in my chest to begin stretching out the skin in order to accept the implant. The expander was put in the day
of the mastectomy.
Following the mastectomy I had 4 months of chemotherapy. My biggest fear was losing all my hair…now I see it as a very small price to pay to save my life. I was then able to start treatments to slowly fill up the expander and in a few months I was able to have the implant put in. After the chemotherapy I had to take Tamoxifen for 5 years followed by Femara for another 5 years and I’m happy to say that I have been cancer free for 14 years.
In many ways having breast cancer has been one of the most positive experiences in my life. I learned so much about “Me” and how important it is to be pro-active when it comes to my health. I’m very proud of the empowered woman I am right now. I have met so many amazing woman from Your Bosom Buddies II, Inc… Breast Cancer Support Group all of who have walked in my shoes. These are friends that will be in my life forever…my friends that listen with their hearts. Most of all of all I have the most amazing family on the planet. My husband Dan and 4 children were with me every step of the way during my journey. My appreciation for life is sky high…now I’m not only stopping to smell the
flowers…I stop and pick them!
Abbe Felton, Survivor