Here’s our third and final round of breast cancer six-word memoirs for #GivingTuesday. On behalf of everyone at Living Beyond Breast Cancer, we want to thank everyone who submitted a six-word memoir about how we’ve impacted you and your breast cancer experience. Your mini-stories inspire us to continue and expand the work that we do. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, Amy Lessack wrote about why she’s giving back to LBBC on #GivingTuesday. Today, we are proud to present this blog post by Debby Freedman, an LBBC volunteer who credits our organization with helpling her through her diagnosis, treatment and beyond. With one day left until the start of our #GivingTuesday activities, we hope Debby’s story will inspire you to support LBBC tomorrow and help us reach more women like her.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 5 years ago and I had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
I first connected with LBBC when I was in chemo. I was still fairly newly diagnosed and I was really scared. I needed someone to talk to who could understand what I was going through and who wouldn’t be alarmed by my fear. I called LBBC’s Breast Cancer Helpline and spoke to a fellow survivor. The call was a huge relief to me. The LBBC Helpline volunteer reassured me and helped me feel that I was not alone in facing the fear that comes with cancer. Read the rest of this entry »
April Tegeler was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38 and is now quickly approaching her 3rd anniversary of completing her treatment. Here she shares with us her journey of finding her “new normal”…
January marks my three year anniversary from breast cancer. It seems so close but so far away, all at the same time. Even though three years seems like ample time to settle back into life, I still have an underlying sense of craving normalcy. I wonder if it is something you ever really stop searching for as a cancer survivor.
As a breast cancer survivor, I was forced to reinvent myself in more ways than one. The most obvious way is physically, a new body means new clothes and new shell of reality. The second way and less conspicuous but perhaps more important is emotionally. It takes a while to wrap your mind around the fact that you will be a forever changed person. In a way, it plays tricks on you and makes you think if I am changed this much on the outside, I must be changed on the inside too.
After diagnosis, things move pretty quickly and it can get overwhelming. After the initial plan sets in, things start to fall into place and the motion eventually dissipates. This can be the hardest part because you feel like you should be settling into normalcy but in actuality you are just beginning a new journey in life. What could be more unsettling than that! Read the rest of this entry »
LBBC would like to welcome our newest blogger Nikki Black. Nikki was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer 5 months ago at the age of 23.
Five months ago I was sitting on the examination table in the office of my primary physician, waiting as she printed out the order for the next day’s ultrasound. “You don’t seem very concerned about this,” she said. I smiled and shook my head, comfortable under the veil of invulnerability that comes with youth. “That’s good,” she added, “I’m not too concerned either.”
I left her office reassured that the lump I had found while showering was most likely nothing, that the ultrasound would confirm this, that student loans would remain my biggest concern for the foreseeable future. I was 23-years-old; I had no family history. There was, at that moment, no cause for concern.
Unfortunately, the next day brought ultrasounds which were “suspicious”, which led to the mammograms, labeled “troubling”, and finally a biopsy, which became defining. A week after that doctor’s visit, I looked up at a bright June sky and tried to comprehend that my life would never be the same. I had breast cancer. Read the rest of this entry »
Kelly Southern is a vibrant 45 year old mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, friend who loves life and lives in Silver Spring, MD. She loves to read, dance and spend time with her family. She has 3 beautiful children: 2 boys ages 26 (Glenn) & 22 (Joshua) and 1 girl (Angelique) age 15. She has been married to her best friend (Alvin) for 24 years. Her family is the most important thing to her and it’s the little things in life that make her happy, like laughter. When she hears them laugh, she is happy. Here she shares her story about her journey with breast cancer…
Kellee and I live in Silver Spring, MD. I received the shocker of my life in 2 parts. The first news came on my 45th birthday on Dec. 27, 2012 as I was told in my follow-up diagnostic mammogram that I have a lump that they were very worried about and I needed to get a biopsy as soon as possible. The doctor’s expression told me everything at that point, but I followed through the process of getting the first biopsy on my right breast only to receive the news on Jan 8, 2013, that I had Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Right Axillary Lymph Node Metastatic Carcinoma and later tests also showed it in my Internal Mammary Lymph Nodes.
So after many doctor appointments and tests (BSGI, stereotactic biopsy on left breast, echocardiogram, PET/CT Scan), it was decided that my treatment plan would go as follows: chemo for 18 weeks (6 rounds, 1 every 3 weeks), mastectomy, radiation.
All of this information crowded into my little brain was serious information overload….WOW! Everything was moving so fast. Too fast. So many people were giving me information, sharing their stories or a story about somebody they knew. I was googling like I never had before. I was drained and getting depressed from everything I was reading and hearing. Read the rest of this entry »
Susan Bodack is the Director of Social Media Marketing at InStyleSwimwear.com–a Philadelphia-based online retailer specializing in fashionable swimwear, beachwear and accessories. When it comes to swimwear, Susan knows her stuff, and she loves to help women look their best at the beach. For additional swimsuit style tips, contact InStyleSwimwear.com today.
At one point or another in our lives, things can take an unexpected turn. Maybe it’s an unexpected job loss, maybe a fire destroys your most precious possessions or maybe you are diagnosed with the dreaded c-word. Obviously no one would be thrilled to learn that somewhere inside his or her body cancerous cells are wreaking havoc, and yet even during such a trying time, you somehow learn to become stronger for yourself and for your loved ones.
Sadly, breast cancer affects an increasing number of women every year and very few of our lives have been untouched by its cold fingers, whether it’s a personal battle or watching a mother, sister, daughter or friend fight against its grasp. This cancer in particular can be very harsh on a woman’s sense of femininity and self-confidence, as it can result in the removal of a piece of womanhood itself–the breast. While this can be a difficult transition, there is absolutely no reason to feel unattractive simply because your body has changed slightly, although it’s understandably much easier said than done. Going grocery shopping in a t-shirt can be intimidating enough but what happens when your family is planning a beach vacation or your girlfriends want to take a cruise? After all you’ve been through you certainly have an increased appreciation for living life to the fullest, so don’t let any anxiety prevent you from enjoying the beauty of nature and making precious memories.
Several different lines of post-mastectomy swimwear can be found from a simple Internet search but if you want a reputable brand, Charmline by Maryan Mehlhorn and Lands’ End offer great, high-quality styles. Over the years, Charmline has been dubbed a “Pioneer in Shapewear” for its gorgeous figure-flattering swimsuits with varying degrees of shaping and support, and these same signature qualities are present in the brand’s mastectomy swimwear styles. Charmline’s mastectomy suits feature higher-cut necklines, shelf bras (no underwire), and specially designed velcro-close pockets for those who prefer to insert a prosthesis. Similarly, Lands’ End specializes in modest, flattering swimsuits and offers mastectomy styles that are designed to hide scars while still flattering your figure. The brand offers a variety of styles to meet different women’s needs, including higher-cut armholes and necklines, powermesh bras with sewn-in soft cups, and prosthesis pockets. Both Charmline and Lands’ End place emphasis on flattering cuts and gorgeous designs to help make their post-mastectomy customers look and feel beautiful.
It might take a bit of shopping to find the suit and style that you are most comfortable with, but there are a number of different options available on the market today. If there aren’t any stores carrying mastectomy swimsuits in your nearby area, shopping online allows you try on your suits in the privacy of your own home–just make sure the store has a good return policy. The most important thing to remember is that beauty comes from within, so slap on the sunscreen and that gorgeous smile of yours and live it up!
Dara Insley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and subsequently developed lymphedema. She has refused to let it slow her down and she continues to be fashionable by wearing compression sleeves by Lymphedivas. A partner of LBBC, LympheDIVAs compression garments allow women living with lymphedema to control their condition beautifully. The fashionable yet medically correct sleeves and gauntlets are available in a multitude of patterns and colors, including commemorative C4YW designs. LympheDIVAs donates $10 from every C4YW sleeve, $5 from every C4YW gauntlet, and $15 from the sale of each C4YW set to benefit LBBC and YSC’s annual C4YW conference. Here is Dara’s story…
It was within a year of my breast cancer diagnosis. At the end of chemotherapy, double mastectomy (without reconstruction, by choice), an upper lymph nodes removal surgery, and radiation, I realized I had lymphedema.
You might call me “determined.” I don’t typically back down from challenges. Perseverance is a requirement for military spouses, and I’ve always had a positive outlook on life. Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I had lost 65 pounds of leftover “baby weight.” Fitness and exercise were my stress relievers during my cancer treatments.