Breast cancer: Diagnosis
October 11th, 2010
10:37 AM ET

Breast cancer: Diagnosis

For the next five days, Amanda Enayati will share the milestones of a life-altering journey that began the day she learned she had late-stage breast cancer more than three years ago.

I had felt something in my breast for more than a year before I decided to get it checked out. I never in a million years imagined it was cancer. I had been either pregnant or nursing continuously for almost four years straight. I thought what I was feeling was a clogged milk duct.

I have no family history of breast cancer.

I have no risk factors for breast cancer.

I don’t drink.

I don’t smoke.

I was always the healthiest person in the room.

I think I still am.

Except for the cancer.

The Indian woman who did the mammogram looked at her screen and said: “Don’t worry! I don’t see anything!” I wasn’t worried.

The attending doctor said: “Well, I don’t see anything but I definitely feel whatever this is you’re feeling. Let’s do an ultrasound.”

She did an ultrasound and a fine needle biopsy on the spot. That should have tipped me off. It didn’t.

I hadn’t gotten a call with the results by that Friday as they promised. Should have tipped me off, but it didn’t.

Same thing on Monday.

On Tuesday I finally called. “A doctor will call you back,” they told me. I still wasn’t worried.

An hour later, the phone rang. It was the doctor. She skipped the niceties and got right to it: “It’s cancer.”

I swear time stopped.

I stopped breathing.

The walls collapsed in on me.

All I could hear was my heart pounding.

I called my husband at work: “You better come home.”

I called my brother in LA: “It’s cancer and I can’t tell Maman. You have to call her. I can’t do it.” I can’t even imagine what was going on at my parents’ house that night.

I lost 10 pounds that first week. I don’t think I slept more than a couple hours a night. I started praying to a God I had been angry with for about a decade.

I lost my right breast.

The tumor was 9 centimeters, which, as far as breast cancers go, is massive.

It had spread to two lymph nodes. That’s not a good thing.

I’m at high risk for recurrence, and will be for the rest of my life.

A handful of people I had befriended who were going through treatment at the same time as me have already died.

As far as I know, I’m okay.

I think I’m going to be okay.

I have good reason to believe I will be okay.

I’m the eternal optimist.

What if I’m wrong?

Tomorrow:  Surgery

Amanda Enayati’s work has appeared in Salon, the Washington Post, Detroit News, and "Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora" (University of Arkansas Press). You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaEnayati or her daily blog, practicalmagicforbeginners.com.

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Filed under: Cancer

soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. Pat Savu

    Maybe you will be Ok. Every year that goes by your chances are better that you will die from something else in the future. Your turmor was big but it had only spread to 2 lymph nodes. I was diagnosed with Breast cancer 18.5 years ago when my youngest child was only 1.5 years old. My tumor was smaller (2 cm) but it had already spread to 5 lymph nodes out of the 15 they took out. I had a mastectomy, 6 months of Chemo, and 5 years of Tamoxifen. I made it so far. One of my children graduated from college, and the other is a junior in college. Unlike you, there was nothing in my breast to feel but a routine mammogram found the cancer. If I hadn't for the mammogram, had gone my children woud have grwon up without theri mother.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AngieTX

      I agree Dale. Exposing yourself to more radiation is a hardly idea. I will NOT be getting a mammogram each year, that is just insane~!

      October 11, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • ken lyn

      here are many alternative cancer treatments available. So, what is the best way to go?

      First, find a doctor who is willing to work with an alternative medicine practitioner, and is familiar with both alternative and conventional treatments for your type of cancer. Together, get as much information as possible about your cancer and possible treatment options. You should not go it alone.

      Second, remember, it is your life! So, consider your doctor’s visits as “consul-pointments”, that a place where you discuss your options with your physician and decide as a team what is best for you. Never underestimate the power of informed intuition to know what is right for you.

      Lastly, have a joyful outlook. Studies have shown that longevity and being symptom-free are closely tied to a positive disposition.

      Alternative medicine may just work

      October 11, 2010 at 21:52 | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      The message the universe just sent me this week (loud and CLEAR) is that early screening matters! I found out this week I have cancer – melanoma, which turned out to be a lot more serious than I thought it was. It's very likely (but not entirely certain yet) I've caught it early – extremely early, and now I am kicking myself for all the times I avoided the doctor, the mammograms, and thankful that I insisted on having a mole removed that looked pretty low risk and the doctors didn't even suggest that there was any rush (but I knew was growing but kept watching it for the past year). I have a 17, 15, and 12 year old and in 36 hours, my whole perspective on screening has changed. I have no family history, am a long-distance runner, eat healthy, usually show up at the doctor once a year .... I wave the wellness flag all the time, but now I realize it's NOT smart to avoid the screening tools that are out there. I am unbelievably thankful I DID not put this off, it may have saved my life. I am having my mammogram TODAY. There may be some risk in testing, but the greater risk is having to deal with cancer at a stage that could have been detected earlier and ... look for yourself at how MUCH that can matter!!

      October 14, 2010 at 08:42 | Report abuse |
  2. Lynne

    Stop it! Just stop!

    October 11, 2010 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thegreenspiral

      @ CANCER IS BIG BUSINESS: You are right on the money. Most cancer is unequivocally related to diet, lifestyle, and environment. Breast Cancer Awareness Month was started by a pharmaceutical company in the business of (wait for it...) profiting from cancer treatment! And all the pinkwashing happening this month is a crying shame. The awareness should be on PREVENTION, not diagnosis. Furthermore, companies dousing themselves in pink more often than not are contributors to the disease, but they're trying to boost their public image and make a few extra bucks 'for a good cause.' Did you see Colonel Sanders' pink bucket o' fried chicken? Sad.

      October 11, 2010 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
  3. kls817

    My sympathies to those with serious disease and their families
    But breast cancer and womens issues aren't the only serious medical problems facing Americans, yet the media and womens groups seem to think it is.
    The constant exposure to pink everything is getting out of hand. When are men's issues going to get sufficient attention?
    Bottom line: women outlive men on the average even though they live an unhealthier lifestyle (women are much more prone to obesity, the leading risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other deadly conditions). It's time to focus on issues affecting men.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SLM

      Are you kidding me?!? All the information and research done for prostate cancer and testicular cancer and you are belly aching because breast cancer is finally getting the attention it needs and deserves?!? We live in a world where Men have gotten first priority for centuries and you have the nerve to whine and complain about the "pink" that is all around?!? Give me a break....

      October 11, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • LD

      I agree;
      The other illnesses should find a way to market awareness as well as Breast Cancer does. Pink, the sexual "save the tata's" and whatnot have done wonders for awareness.
      Spend some time brainstorming – how else can we market illness to an American public that doesn't even care much for paying attention to it's political and economic future?

      October 11, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • darci

      Really you are complaining about a serious disease getting the awareness it needs? I think you need to realign your priorities. If the "constant exposer to pink" saves just one life, I think you can handle it for a month. By raising awareness about one cancer, you are doing it for all.

      October 11, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • Angryart

      I'm with you. When are mens' issues going to be talked about. I live in Boise, ID. They just had a HUGE women's fitness day. 10,000 people participated. I just went to a rodeo where it was "Wear Pink" night. Why no "Wear Blue" night? What about men? We can get breast cancer, too, but you don't hear about it. We're half the population.

      October 11, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Tryce

      Any man at any time is more than welcome to start their own awareness campaign. The concept of having more people aware and educated about breast cancer was never meant to undermine or trivialize other canceres or illnesses. It's about reaching and saving as many lives as possible with the hopes of finding a cure. I am a breast cancer survivor that was diagnosed early because of a routine mamogram. I am, and will always, promote yearly mamograms to women because early detection is vital. I will continue to wear pink with extreme pride.

      October 11, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
    • Tryce

      Also, I do not believe that any breast cancer campaign or event has ever excluded men from the statistics. Just because the color pink has become the associated breast cancer awareness color, it in no way hints that men are not at risk or that they do not suffer from this horrible disease as well. Real men do wear pink!

      October 11, 2010 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • CMA

      All I can add to this absurd comment that hasn't already been said is to say, if you'd like to get more attention on men's issues beyond ED - get organized and get the NFL, ESPN, etc. to go with you. PLEASE!

      October 12, 2010 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
    • Sharon Hughes

      Well, by all means go ahead and START a men's awareness campaign – likely you'll get many many supporters – INCLUDING women.

      However, Pink This and Pink That actually SAVES LIVES. This is because you are constantly aware of the prevalence of breast cancer. This makes it much more likely that you will go and get a mammogram, and do self-exams monthly. The "Pink" thing is working. don't dis it – it's saving countless lives and, it has never left out men who suffer from it, either.

      I have a friend who just finished treatment for BC, and I lost my mother to it – the community that is surrounding breast cancer sufferers is amazing and that as well SAVES LIVES.

      October 13, 2010 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
    • erica1112

      Ok – that is just hysterical! That the medical establishments 'need' to focus more on male health issues, then female? Please – it was only after the 1920s that doctors were allowed to touch a woman during a physical exam. Female heart disease has only recently come into the forefront of modern medicine because women "typically" don't have heart attacks. Ever hear of Viagra? Give me a break! Yes, I believe we've gone overboard on the pink ribbons, but please get your medical history straight.

      October 14, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • Delia

      You obviously have never met anyone with breast cancer. Breast cancer awareness and research is a GOOD THING. How could you possibly say that the attention and is "out of hand" if women like my mom have to go through HELL for treatment? You have no idea what chemotherapy is like. Or what pain the loved ones of breast cancer patients have to go through. The awareness should not end until there is a cure.
      The reason breast cancer has so much awareness is because people have worked hard to make it that way. If you feel so strongly that other issues need awareness, make it happen instead of just whining about it.
      Keep your ignorant beliefs to yourself in the future.

      October 16, 2010 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
    • ApeHanger

      Prostate cancer kills about as many men in one year as breast cancer kills women. Yet funding for breast cancer research and advertising about it is 20 times that of what is spent on prostate cancer. Sounds like a major imbalance to me. with one friend having died from prostate cancer and another recently treated (surgery) for it, I'm less concerned about some overweight woman and her boobs than I am about my male friends who are not overweight and constantly whining about health problems.

      In the last several days people have been coming around pushing breast cancer awareness and asking if I'd like to have a pink ribbon and make a donation. I replied, "Sure...just as soon as prostate cancer gets equal billing."

      October 16, 2010 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
    • nushatka

      "..When are men's issues going to get sufficient attention?" When mostly men will keep and raise kids after the couple splits up. Sorry, just couldn't hold it.

      October 16, 2010 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • KarateGirl258

      You're a man and you're worried about breast cancer? Here's a clue. Go upstairs to your bathroom and throw out your antiperspirant. Guaranteed that it has aluminum in it. Go online and order toxin-free deodorant (note, not antiperspirant, not 'non-toxic'). Your chances of getting breast cancer are greatly reduced. Now switch your diet to organic everything ("healthy eating" isn't low fat, low cholesterol, lots of conventional veggies bull-hooey) . No more fried foods. No more pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers (that are made with highly toxic industrial waste that plants LOVE and that make them look really pretty but that poisons us). Now take a ton of vitamin D every day. Now go through your house and toss every other chemical contaminant, like your disgusting chemical cleansers, dryer sheets, cosmetics (shaving cream... read the label, you won't believe it). Drink organic beer and wine in moderation – there are actually some great ones out there. Drink whole, raw milk. Eat organic walnuts and organic blueberries and organic watercress. NOW your chances of getting cancer are very seriously reduced. And if you still want to whine about it, start your own thread.

      October 16, 2010 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      kls – seriously? Men's health issues get attention too. Do you know how prostate testing has improved the lives of men? The tests are easy and well researched. Have you heard of Viagra? Women don't get birth control covered by most insurances but Viagra? Men can get it for free any time they want. We need more money going for research for both men and women's health. And, by the way, just because someone is overweight or even obese, doesn't mean they are unhealthy. Just like some size 0 women aren't always healthy.

      October 17, 2010 at 00:15 | Report abuse |
    • sls45

      REALLY? You need to get out of the blog!! What exactly brought you here to begin with if you are so against the "pink" and awareness month that this disease deserves. After all, what sex was the "mother" that brought you into this world? I'm sure you wouldn't be posting your disgrace here if your mother or sister were fighting this disease. Maybe you should only be reading the articles that affect MEN if you feel so strongly about it. Good luck to you and God Bless all the women who fight against this terrible disease to stay in this world and want to live their life. God Bless the publicity and research and awareness "Pink" has brought to breast cancer.

      October 20, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
  4. Sheila perryman

    Breast cancer is a disease that men get also. People stand up and fight for various causes every day. You complain about diseases that afflict men not being in the forefront but it is doubtful you have raised awarenes or fought for a cure for any of them. Do your part for whatever it is you feel is important. To each his own.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brenda

      Well said.

      October 16, 2010 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
  5. Pat Savu

    "When are men's issues going to get sufficient attention?" Men control most of the power and the money. But often they think they are invulnerable and don't take care of their own health. The woman in their life is often charged with their health maintanence. Often getting them to even see a physician is like pulling teeth. If Men's health issues don't get a sufficient share of research money, maybe it's their own fault.

    Both of my parents died from cancer. My mother from breast cancer when she was only 53, but my father died fron prostate cancer when he was 77. looks like Dad got an extra 24 years of life.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Worried Mom

    Sounds very serious – – dont think i could go through something like this.

    October 11, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • renee

      You would be surprised at what you can handle when you are faced with it.
      My mom was diagnosed with cancer first in her lung, then her bones in her back. Before it was all said (and done) she had a great fighting additude for over 2 years. (the only place she did not get cancer was in her breast i think)
      She and my dad made the decision to fight the fight and do what they had to do in spite of what was "thrown" at them. So many people said to them how marvelous their outlook was, and they made the best of that last 26 months they had together.

      October 11, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  7. Cure

    I support you and wish you a fast journey to complete wellness!
    We all need to realize that cancer is often random, and blaming lifestyle is terribly unfair to its victims.
    Many people with cancer live the healthiest lifestyles they can. Even if they have an unhealthy habit, that is not a "reason" for cancer. Everyone's journey and needs are different, and no one should be judged.
    Let's support the research for a cure!

    October 11, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sally

      There are alot of natural foods one can eat to prevent the free radicals that can cause cancers. I can gaurantee you that they do have a cure or at least a way to prevent thousands of cases each year. Do they teach anyone about them? No. All American doctors are good for is treatment ( if that) NOT prevention. The answer is obvious: If you are not sick, there is no reason to see a doctor!

      October 11, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Sharon Hughes

      Sally – if you don't know you're sick, and you don't get exams by the time you ARE sick and see a doctor you will likely be far advanced and your chances are much lower. My bet is on preventative measures, screening and being my own medical advocate which is to say doing all I can to make sure I am in charge of my body and looking after it. As a human being it is my duty to my family to do that.

      October 13, 2010 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
  8. Nan Prather

    Why in the world are some of you arguing over who and which cancer gets the most coverage ....what is wrong with this picture.....this woman just found out she has cancer...that is a shock in and of itself...your mortality is staring you in the face...she needs alot of support and love right now....

    October 11, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. VK

    I totally agree!! We should raise awareness for all types of cancers and distribute the money equally towards research to find a cure. Everywhere I turn, there is PINK PINK PINK. What an insult for someone whose mom is fighting OVARIAN CANCER the deadliest forms of gynecological cancers and whose change of surviving five years, is less than 20%!!! Ovarian cancer is usually diagnosed when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body reducing the five year survival mark to less than 20%. It bothers me everytime I see PINK, while September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, there was hardly any media coverage about the disease. People die everyday of "CANCER" NOT JUST breast CANCER.

    October 11, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LG

      You see pink everywhere because someone was motivated and compelled to do something in the face of her sister's untimely death from breast cancer. Instead of bashing people for doing something about their plight and getting attention, why don't you try doing something to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, or are you waiting for someone else to do it for you? Yes, people die of cancer every day, and it s**ks. I find it ridiculous that you are personally insulted by people with breast cancer who have come up with a clever marketing idea and are getting positive results.

      October 11, 2010 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
    • VK

      1) Ovarian cancer patients unfortunately do not live long enough to be able to advocate for themselves and 2) many organizations turn us away and refuse to raise awareness because ovarian cancer is not as protifable as breast cancer is. For your information, I volunteer in various organizations to raise awareness and educate people about this deadly disease, I'm not waiting for someone else do it for me as you suggest. DOES THIS ANSWER YOUR QUESTION??? Thanks

      October 11, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • erica1112

      I hear cigarrettes cause cancer.... let's raise awareness!

      October 14, 2010 at 14:15 | Report abuse |

    Smoke marijuan! It prevents breast cancer!

    October 11, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. cbean

    A mammogram did not show my breast lump ( biopsy- negative), nor my friends, who's was cancerous. Ultrasound is far superior for detection than mammograms, without the cancer causing radiation.
    (and stay away from plastics.....)

    October 11, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Barbara R

    Get the Best Doctor you can find and there are a lot of trials going on for people with Cancers that are more aggressive than others. I just had my 2 year 6 month check up and although i have some minor issues, my best friend from chemo didn't make it, so I have Nothing to Complain About. I still see my family and i have a Great outlook on life. No More Negative Here!!!
    All the Best to you... Agree that ultra sound is the best... Mammogram didn't find my lump either.

    October 11, 2010 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Karen A.

    Beautifully written piece. Thank you for sharing your personal journey with us. Look forward to reading the rest in the series. Wishing you good health.

    October 11, 2010 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply

    I had breast cancer 3 years ago, I don't understand the crying and time stopping. I got the call, went back to work, talked to my daughters, back to work. Life went on, had chemo, surgeries, blood clots and as the nurse said "just a little blimp in the road" Mine was 3.5 and 1.5 centimeters and 14 lympnodes were taken out. Good luck to you.

    October 11, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • L. Sims

      She says nothing about crying. Just that it felt like time stopped when she first heard the diagnosis. Infinitely understandable, in my opinion. Best of luck to you.

      October 11, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Megan

      Marilyn – good for you. You made it through cancer without crying and 'time stopping'. You want a cookie? A pat on the back? Maybe some therapy would help you grasp the concept of empathy.

      October 16, 2010 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
  15. MAC

    She ran the risk of getting breast cancer for being an idiot. While she has my sympathies, it is only to an extent. At some point you need to be your own advocate and take responsibility for your own life. Waiting that long to see a doctor is ridiculously foolish and irresponsible.

    October 11, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pazyfe

      why so crude, idiot and sympathy all in the same paragraph, I feel your sincerity.....NOT!

      October 11, 2010 at 22:47 | Report abuse |
  16. Leelee

    this woman is an empowered patient, forget that cohen lady.

    October 11, 2010 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. barbara

    I was just diagnosed with breast cancer in March, had a masectomy in May and will have the second half of my reconstruction next week. I wish you all the best. I feel great and do not regret my diagnosis. For those who have posted that breast cancer is a man made disease – I am sorry that you feel that way. I tend to disagree. We are all entitled to our opinons. My cancer was detected at my annual mammogram. I believe that mammogram saved my life and am GRATEFUL. Best of luck to you – I have had a wonderful experience and hope you have the same.

    October 11, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Debbie

      My cancer was diagnosed in May, double mastectomy in June and I just had the second part of reconstruction last Thursday. I could have written your letter! The mammogram saved my life! Continued good luck to you!

      October 11, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
  18. Pat Savu

    "Waiting that long to see a doctor is ridiculously foolish and irresponsible."
    People who are not from families that have a lot of breast cancer in them don't even think that his can happen to them when they are young-middle-aged. Some people have cystic breasts and there is a lot of lumpiness and stringiness near every month.

    This poor woman had just had 2 children close together. Being diagnosed with breast cancer within 2 years of a pregnancy increases you chances of dying by 50% becaseu all the hormones from Preganancy and lactation fuels the growth of a tumor. Luckily she is over the hump now because your chances of dying from your disiease are greatest inn the first 2 years after diagnosos

    October 11, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bill

    My sister is 3 years into breast cancer treatment. Unfortunately, she probably will not have a good outcome like you have had so far. It has spread to her brain and she just completed a full-brain radiation and chemo series of treatments. After that, there is one other treatment they can try. I believe it is called a gamma knife. If that doesn't work, then it will be over. Be thankful for every day that you have.

    October 11, 2010 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Tryce

    Amanda...my prayers are with you.

    October 11, 2010 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Liz

    To Cancer Is Big Business – – "Cancer is 100% Preventable". I don't see anyone questioning that. But I am. Please enlighten me. I'm not challenging you, I truly want to know how. There is no cancer in either side of my family except a distant uncle. However, there a a lot of smokers but none have cancer, and they aren't young. How can we 100% prevent cancer other than the obvious quit smoking, quit drinking – – I don't do either – – but what else? I have children and grandchildren I would love to see live long and be healthy. Thanks.

    October 11, 2010 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thegreenspiral

      Liz, I'm not the poster you are requesting, but please see here for some info: http://www.thegreenspiral.com

      October 12, 2010 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
    • bfuruta

      Liz, read The China Study. The Introduction to the book gives you a hint of how you can greatly reduce your chance of getting cancer. Chapter 3 is titled Turning Off Cancer. The science is compelling, not just the 30+ year China study conducted by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the government of China, but many other scientific studies confirm the role of diet in promoting cancer and other diseases of affluence.

      October 14, 2010 at 05:27 | Report abuse |
    • BarbaraK

      Cancer existed before the industrial revolution. It's absurd to declare it a man-made problem.

      October 14, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Fran

      Liz, I have to agree with you on this. Is cancer really 100% preventable? I had a newborn die shortly after birth. The autopsy revealed that she had Congenital Neuroblastoma and that the cancerous tumor had ruptured, possibly during delivery. Her name was Lily Anna. I would like someone to explain to me how I could have prevented her cancer before she was even born.

      October 16, 2010 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
  22. Farmwife

    Thank you for the courage to share this personal story. I can only guess what it takes to decide to go through all of this again – both emotionally and physically but again, thank you for deciding to share your story.

    October 11, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Elizabeth

    Amanda: You will be in my prayers. I hope your surgery went well. Please keep us posted with your updates.

    October 11, 2010 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Heidi

    I had a mastectomy (left side 9 cent.) 4 1/2 years ago chemo and 40 rounds of radiation. it was in 18 of the 24 lymph nodes that they pulled. i was in remission for almost 3 years when it returned in the lymph nodes. now after 6 chemos I'm in remission again. I'm thankfull for every day.

    October 11, 2010 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Survivor's Husband

    I'd have to say that through my wifes six trips to an infusion room that there were more breast cancer patients we met there than other types and boy was that a sad and over crowded place (too many people having to be there). An interesting spin to my knowledge is I believe my wifes was caused by enviornmental. She worked for a lawn treatment company that used all types of chemicals. Bugs are bad for business... I found that many pesticides are made by pharmaceutical companys. Hmmm.... Make them pay for the product to get sick and then sell them the product at an astranomical price to make them well..........What a bunch of rotten b_stards! I wonder if these chemists manufacturing this stuff drinks bottled water or water out of their tap.....

    October 11, 2010 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AL

      Survivor's Husband, you just hit the nail on the head. Thank you! In our naive attempt to control nature through incesticides and pesticides we are actually killing ourselves. Our food source is tainted, our water is contaminated. Please read Silent SPing by Rachel Carson. It will all come clear.

      October 13, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  26. Margaret

    Breast cancer is not caused by lifestyle, and is not totally preventable. I think this is a skewed message the public is getting because researchers are looking for causes of breast cancer, and are attributing it to lifestyle. They are careful to separate risk factors from causes, but the general public doesn't see a difference. Most of the women I know who were diagnosed with breast cancer were in their mid-forties, and led very healthy lifestyles. I think we look for a reason someone else got breast cancer so we can rationalize why we won't get it. It's primarily a disease of aging. The only thing you can do is go in for regular mammograms. How could something get to be 9 cm and be felt and not identified?

    October 11, 2010 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Stage 4 Survivor

    As scary as diagnosis can be, and no matter how bad the prognosis, know that it can be survivable. I first was diagnosed with Stage 2 (one lymph node positive) at the age of 29. I had a mastectomy and an aggressive course of chemo. Three years later it had spread throughout my bones and both lungs. After more chemo, I had an autologous stem cell transplant at the age of 33. That was 18 years ago. Life is normal, full, and wonderful!

    October 11, 2010 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Annelies

      I have never heard of stem cell transplants! Did you have it done in the US? Would you mind telling where you received it? This sounds like the most promising treatment. I had bc 7 years ago and since then I have spoken with many women who have all stages of cancer, but I have never heard of stem cell transplant. I know that in Europe they treat tumors with laser treatment and I am afraid they don't do it here in the US because it is expensive and the private insurance companies don't want to pay. There is more cancer now than ever before. I tend to believe that it is caused by the environment, chemicals in food and in the air and I also am strongly questioning the growth hormones animals get. I totally agree with everybody who blames the pharmaceuticals for lots of the problems and making lots of money with cancer treatments.
      Some of the comments above are most insensitive – particularly those made by the men! I have heard lots of women complain about their husbands who could not deal with the illness and left (like John Edwards) and one guy had the nerve to ask his wife not to have a mastectomy because he wanted to "play" with her breasts!

      October 11, 2010 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
  28. pazyfe

    I just learned 2 weeks ago that I have breast Cancer, I had a lumpectomy 2 days ago. I also never thought this would happen, 48 y/o, my God I was upset, I said to God I have already gone through so much, I have a 24 y/o with Downs and my life has been a struggle, but something inside me knew, that I had to go through this chapter in my life. I have taken it pretty well, I think God's peace is with me, as I look back I even held a Women's study about breast Cancer, last year. I have been around so many patient's with Cancer, I work at a nearby hospital, now I feel even more empathy and want to give of myself even deeper, so here I am, yes here I am world, I refuse to feel sorry for me, I want to live, I want to love, I want to kiss my sons even harder everyday. I want to live life without regrets, my Sun is now brighter, my praise is stronger, my dog is sweeter. My coffee tastes better, I will savor every moment He gives me, and praise His Holy Name!!!!!!!!

    October 11, 2010 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Seeker

      You, my dear, are a remarkable human being. Thank you for your beautiful words.

      October 11, 2010 at 22:45 | Report abuse |
  29. sharon

    I had metaplastic carcinoma with sarcomotoid features (read very aggressive, very rare, and incurable for the sarcoma) I am now cancer free with no fear of recurrance (read because it did not kill me within months) Had very aggressive chemo, boosted radiation and mastectomy, but it was all very doable. Life just went on. I actually am very fond of my hospital and viewed the whole process as a series of victories. My tumour came up the size of a golf ball overnight. I think it is important to define what kind of cancer you have as there are multiple breast cancers. Please do that as you write. One bit of advice-embrace pragmatism, it is much easier to deal with than trying to be positive about an illness. I hope you have the same good outcome that I was lucky enough to have,

    October 12, 2010 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Stage 4 Survivor

    For Annelies, who asked where I had the stem cell transplant: It was done here in the U.S. in Chicago at Loyola Hospital. There are other hospitals and doctors doing the procedure also. It is also called a bone marrow transplant. Mine was autologous: my own cells were extracted through pheresis and saved, massive amounts of chemo given to kill the cancer, and my cells reintroduced to rebuild healthy blood cells. It was harrowing, but, as I am here 18 years post Stage 4, proof that it can be successful.

    October 12, 2010 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. bystander

    Life is not about how long you live, what matters is how you live your life.

    October 12, 2010 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Thankful to be a SURVIVOR

    I am just two years out from my diagnosis – 2.5 inch infill. lobular bcancer, 2 positive lymph., bi-lat. mast., 8 chemo, 28 radiations, currently in the middle of reconstruction. And I am thankful everyday that I had my routine mammogram when I did – otherwise, I wouldn't be here today. To these men who complain about all the "pink"... my wish for you is that your life continue to be so blessed! You must be very fortunate individuals to have this as your most important concern! God Bless You All!

    October 13, 2010 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Kate

    You are a strong person. I seriously look up to people like you, you make me focus on the important things in life. I hope you will be okay, and I will pray for you. You are still a beautiful person, inside and out. I just don't think I would be able to take news like that if I were you, and that's why I admire you. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us, it brought tears to my eyes, but it also made me think.

    October 13, 2010 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Michelle


    At last – somebody who understands PREVENTION!!! That is the KEY!!!
    But I am afraid nobody has the stomach for it. It would mean shutting down entire companies and corporations – pesticides, plastics, fast foods, etc. Just look at all the people sucking on plastic straws in big styrofoam cups, polluting their bodies and then polluting the environment.

    The earth is in a state of inbalance and so are our bodies, unfortunately. If we can treat our bodies with the respect they deserve – healthy food without additives or chemicals, exercise instead of hours spent at a desk in front of computers (hah!), cooking for health and not convenience, cleaning up our air, using glass instead of plastic, we may make a step toward prevention. Running, skipping, sleeping in or racing for the cure is just too late.
    Let's shut the barn door before the horse gets out.

    October 13, 2010 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. jen h

    i am a 19 year survivor of breast cancer and a 13 year survivor of ovarian cancer. it is so disappointing to read such negative comments. i'd venture to say that the people who are the most negative and unsympathetic are those who have been LUCKY and cancer free (so far).

    October 13, 2010 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BarbaraK

      Agree. People are being disgusting.

      October 14, 2010 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
  36. bjodavis

    I am a 6 year breast cancer survivor (aggressive lobular carcinoma) who went through 6 mo chemo and 37 radiation treatments. I don't hesitate to have regular mammograms and mri's. I makes me rest better. And that my friends is important. Peace of mind. With no history of breast cancer in my family, who knows for sure? I still drink diet drinks, etc. I am a product of today's society. I blame no one. Who know why it happened. I maintain a VERY positive attitude and wake up everyday with gratefulness and gladness. I've made it my challenge to contribute to the breast cancer research by doing local drives such as 5k races, dinners, drawings, just about anything I can think of along with my friend(who incidentally lost her husband to esophageal cancer). This has become my mission and purpose (if you will). I will face each day that God has given me with happiness. Never another bad hair day!!HA And, by the way. it's never too late.

    October 14, 2010 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Jessica O'Leary

    I love how we're using this as another excuse to call each other names and rip each other apart. I love a good trolling as much as anyone, but this is ridiculous.

    Grow up, people. Get a heart.

    October 14, 2010 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Michelle


    I have been lucky so far not to deal with cancer, but that could certainly change!

    I do not mean to imply that cancer is completely preventable as there are so MANY factors involved. But humas have only been exposed to diest drinks, pesticides, fast food, computer screens, nail polish, hair dyes, food coloring, car exhaust, plastics, etc etc for just over a humdred years. Human have been on the this planet for nearly 2 million years, but have only been ingesting these toxic items for a couple of generations. That is a mere nano second in evolutionary terms.

    To expect the human body to handle all those things, plus second hand smoke, food that has been microwaved and irradiated, questionable drinking water, deodrants full of aluminum, etc and NOT get sick is unrealistic.

    It may well be a sort of natural selection going on for all I know, and we may one day be a species that can diigest plastic, artificial sweeteners and the like, and still thrive, but that might take another 2 million years!

    While i believe in prevention and eliminating as many bad factors as possible, I do pray for a cure. But think of it – if there actually WERE a cure – then imagine the economic decline this nation would see!!! The unemployment! the scramble for a patent! The tumbling stocks and thousands of empty buildings no longer needed.

    Still, a cure woudl be wonderful.

    October 14, 2010 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BarbaraK

      You do realize cancer existed before all these products, right? Sometimes it was diagnosed, sometimes it wasn't. We may have more cancer now but we also have more diagnosis, so it's hard to say. We also have a much longer life expectancy than we did pre-Industrial Revolution too.

      October 14, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • erica1112

      I'm sure that there will be other scourges on humanity to take the place of cancer should a cure ever be found. Just wait until people REALLY understand how serious the threat of antibiotic resistance. We can blame that on humans too!

      October 14, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
  39. Marcel

    This past year we travelled the breast cancer journey. My wife has gone through chemo therapy, bilateral mastectomy and is in her final week of radiation. Here are some facts to help you understand what that is like.

    Cancer by the numbers:
    RemoveMarcel Rivet Cancer by the numbers:
    65 days waiting to find out if the lump is cancerous.
    6 number of doctors involved
    69 medical appointments
    6400 kms driven getting to and from appointments
    280 dollars in parking tickets
    6 pounds of flesh lost
    20000 dollars in prescriptions
    8 chemotherapy treatments
    5 days a week of radiation
    5 weeks of radiation
    1 night in hospital
    1 life to live

    October 16, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jenn

    Optimistic and brave! You are winning the fight for a reason....God bless!

    October 16, 2010 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. KC

    To CANCER IS BIG BUSINESS: You're an idiot. Why do you think cancer is diagnosed more now? Is there more cancer occuring? Not really, but medical advances have made us able to diagnose what would previosly have been a mystery illness. Why do you think life expectancy in the US climbs each year, does not decrease? Because of the ability of doctors to diagnose early and treat. Why are there not more cancers elsewhere? Diet, sometimes. But otherwise, it's because the countries lack the ability of early diagnosis that we have here in the U.S. and they die without ever knowing why. Why don't you take your conspiracy theories and shove them. Then get a colonoscopy by a doctor with a very cold, sharp probe and no anesthesia.

    October 16, 2010 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Ruth

    Just to let you gentlemen who don't want to wear "pink" breast cancer awareness shirts, know that on the USA Television Network (USA.COM) or the CBS Television Network (CBS.COM) go on the N.C.I.S Series / ABBY Charictor. She is seen wearing a great BLACK and GRAY short sleeve breast cancer awardness shirt for about $25.

    October 16, 2010 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ApeHanger

      Where are the blue "prostate cancer awareness" shirts?

      October 16, 2010 at 21:37 | Report abuse |
  43. ApeHanger

    Prostate cancer kills about as many men in one year as breast cancer kills women. Yet funding for breast cancer research it is 20 times that for prostate cancer. Sounds like a major imbalance to me. With one friend having died from prostate cancer and another recently treated (surgery) for it but still living on the edge, I'm less concerned about some overweight woman and her precious boobs who is constantly whining about her health issues than I am about my male friends who are not overweight and not whining.

    In the last several days people have been coming around pushing breast cancer awareness and asking if I'd like to have a pink ribbon and make a donation. I replied, "Sure...just as soon as prostate cancer gets equal billing."

    BTW, breast cancer is relatively common in North America. Could it be our lifestyle is behind it? Also, I am a survivor of chronic refractory idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a potentially deadly bleeding disorder. Despite all the trouble it has caused me, I don't feel compelled to whine, complain, write pointless web articles about it, and cry, "Why me?"

    October 16, 2010 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      Watch television commercials. Males are universally teated as morons, slobs, idiots and incompetents, and women are ALWAYS smarter, better, cleaner, etc. So naturally the diseases that kill men are commensurately less important!

      October 16, 2010 at 21:38 | Report abuse |
  44. Al

    America seems to worship breat cancer, breat cancer survivors, breat cancer fundraisers. What color ribbon stands for prostate cancer research? Or are women that much more important than men?

    October 16, 2010 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ApeHanger

      Or are women that much more important than men?

      They must be. If male-specific health problems got 10 percent of the funding and attention given to breast cancer we men would be far better off. But, don't you understand? Our function is to provide money and, when needed, sperm. Otherwise, we don't count any more.

      October 16, 2010 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
  45. nena

    I lost my father to cancer 8 years ago and my mother is dying of breast cancer right now. It is not about how large your tumor was or how your pain was more than anothers. Pain and suffering are real to the person feeling them and should be acknowledged. We are all different by genetics and socialization. As I have seen and experienced people will often die as they have lived. My father lived and died a dignified life never asking why me and never once admiting or showing that he was in pain. My mother has decided that if she is going to die we are all going to go with her. So learn to love yourself, embrace life, have empathy for others when possible and understand that someday it could be you.

    October 16, 2010 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. nena

    @Al.........it is not that women are deamed more important than men but if you look at various organizations that support women in moments like this , they were started by other women. Unlike men we tend to have more empathy not only for others but our own kind. So it is perfectly natural to see us championing each others cause including breast cancer. Sadly in this society men treat a woman without her breasts as though she is no longer a human being. Breasts have become a symbol of womanhood and not always in a good way. That is why the number one alteration done to the human body is breast enlargement, which would not happen if more men looked beyond our breast size to our intellect. So read what you wrote carefully. sometimes you are what you eat and at other times you reflect the BS you pander too.

    October 16, 2010 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. jabcat

    Please google turmeric cancer. Very promising.

    October 16, 2010 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Bravo, Nena

    I'm not one to post things, but seriously...some of you need to wake up and stop complaining and get some empathy! I have had a lot of family members survive cancer and some lost the battle (including my parents, gone both too young to two different cancers). I apologize to the survivors, families of current cancer patients and those going through the fight of your life against the beast called cancer for the insensitive comments made by some (especially the ones talking about cancer is preventable and a few men whining about breast cancer getting all of the attention). I feel attention to ANY cancer by the national or local level can only help everyone–those fighting the fight now and our children who will continue the fight if we don't make strides soon. Life is so short, you can be bitter and have anger or you can realize like Nena mentioned," have empathy for others when possible and understand that someday it could be you." If you have not walked the walk, don't judge; it's hellish to go through cancer and so painful to watch loved ones fight it. For those that shared your stories or your loved ones stories...thank you for your bravery. I pray for your continued strength, faith and hope...

    October 16, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Jennifer

    Every single American should read "Anti-Cancer: A New Way of LIfe" by David Servan-Schreiber. It is brilliantly researched and written. Something as simple as adding turmeric, green tea, crucifer vegetable, berries, salmon, grass-fed beef and diary to your diet and avoiding foods high in Omega-6 fats (like conventionally produced beef and dairy) could spare you the terrible tragedy and suffering of cancer. Read it!

    October 16, 2010 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. liz

    I think every one of us who has experience breast cancer knows your fear. I'm also sure that many of us, myself included, lost weight after being told we had breast cancer. Cry, talk to friends, talk to strangers, do what you must do, to get through the dark times at this point. Do not let this hideous disease take over your mind. You must be mentally strong to fight the hardest battle of your life.
    Good luck and much love. xox

    October 17, 2010 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.