Pink Fund Donation Day
Kaci Sintek @americanhoneyliving
At 31, I never expected to get diagnosed with breast cancer, let alone in the middle of a pandemic. The "Breast Cancer Club" was never one that I wanted to join. But one thing that I've learned is that we can do hard things, and we can do them better together. As a result, I'm currently working on creating a Breast Cancer themed Christian Devotional where multiple women will be sharing their stories about fighting breast cancer and their faith through it. My heart is that I could make this time count for something meaningful. Sometimes we just have to flip the narrative on tough times and change our perspective from "Why me?" to "Use me," realizing how much power our lives can have when we embrace the challenge and turn it for good.
Since April, I've had a mastectomy, a chemo port surgery and five months of chemo treatment, and am just starting a month of radiation. Because chemo and radiation can cause problems with reproductive health, I also went through fertility treatment and an egg retrieval surgery in order to freeze my eggs. Within the year, I will also undergo a second mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
And I completed 16 chemo infusions over five months. I just started radiation treatment now this week where I will have 19 radiation sessions, going in five days a week for a month.
Ann Thibodeaux @annthibodeaux
On 2/28/18, at 25-weeks pregnant, I received news no one wants to hear, especially while pregnant. “You have breast cancer.” [IDC. stage 2b, grade 3] I had an unilateral mastectomy two weeks later, with clear margins followed by clear scans. A few weeks after I started chemo and completed a few rounds before giving birth to my warrior baby girl, Sullivan Sloane, 6/1/18. Ten days after giving birth, I began chemo again and completed 14 rounds followed by 30 rounds of radiation. Five rounds short of finishing radiation treatment, I was diagnosed with a blood infection that nearly killed me. With God, science, and a highly skilled medical team, I healed and then completed the remaining radiation in December 2018. In May 2019 I had my second mastectomy (clear pathology) and DIEP reconstruction. I underwent phase two of reconstruction in September 2019 and January 2020. I recently had clear scans and will be 3 years No Evidence of Disease (NED) in March 2021.
It's interesting to reflect on the above. It’s a very scientific and succinct summary of what I’ve been through medically. However, it doesn’t begin to describe the emotions – grief, fear, anger, yet even joy, that I experienced often like a roller coaster on a daily basis. I think we often hear stories of breast cancer survivors, but until we are in it, we have no idea of the physical or emotional journeys we must take.
When I was first diagnosed, I was connected with Hope For Two and KACM, both of which were instrumental in helping me along the way. Connecting with women just like me provided the hope and strength necessary to get through the very toughest of days!
It has been a challenging, at times devastating, few years, but with the help of God and my incredible support system, I am here and grateful for every single day. I am trying to navigate life after cancer and with the many long-term side effects of chemo, radiation, and the hormone therapy I will be on for ten years.
I want those in the weeds of diagnosis, scans, and treatment to know that you CAN do this! You will have days where you want to quit - allow yourself to feel all the feelings, but then rally. Keep going! And know that you have many, many women here to listen, encourage, rage, and help you.
Wendy Jenks @wendyjenks
My name is Wendy and I am currently just beginning my warrior journey. I am 49 years old and was diagnosed in late August with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. I started Chemotherapy treatment on October 1st and will continue for about five months of chemotherapy and then eventually will have surgery to remove the cancer from my body. My hair started falling out about two weeks after my first chemo treatment so I opted to go ahead and cut my hair off myself and strangely it has been somewhat freeing, although a little tough to get used to. This will be a long journey, and it won't always be easy, but I am extremely fortunate to have an extended support network that has been an incredible gift to me and helps me realize just how important it is to be kind, supportive and loving to every person regardless of where they are in their journey of life. Everyone's journey is different, but everyone's journey is just as important as the next.
If I was to offer anyone any advice that is dealing with, or have dealt with a cancer diagnosis, it's that as hard as it to ask for help...ASK FOR HELP! As a woman we tend to take so many things on ourselves and don't want to appear weak or needing help, but we all need help, we need each other. I have gotten so many tiny forms of support, along with large ones as well, and each one mean just as much to me. Allowing that kindness and love into your life makes a world of difference on those darker days. Just remember, no one fights alone!!!
Alison Randazzo @alidazzo1012
My name is Alison Randazzo and I was diagnosed with Stage III Triple Negative Breast cancer in January 2019 at the age of 34. I have completed 14 rounds of chemotherapy, a single mastectomy with full lymph node removal, 30 rounds of radiation, and 4 months of a chemotherapy pill. Overall, this journey has been long and difficult but I could have not done it without the support of my husband, Ryan, my 2 sweet kids, Tyler and Ava, and my family and friends who have stood by me every step of the way. Today, I stress the importance of monthly self-breast exams and to schedule your yearly mammograms. Early detection is key!
Taylor Keaton @taylakeats
Hi everyone! My name is Taylor Keaton and I am a breast cancer SURVIVOR! At age 25 I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (HER2 -, hormone +) that had already spread into my lymph nodes on 12/9/2019 (& no family history)! I was changing out of my clothes after work and my elbow happened to nudge my right breast as I was taking my bra off (best feeling ever am I right?!). To my surprise, there was a rather hard lump. My mom practically forced me to message my provider, and thank goodness she did! After lots of imaging and biopsies, I got the call no one deserves or thinks will happen to them. It's cancer. I am a clinical research coordinator for cancer clinical trials so the irony was indescribable. I received 16 rounds of chemo, 4 surgeries, and just finished up 6 weeks of daily radiation all in the same building I work. I wasn't able to freeze my eggs due to the expense & not being able to delay chemo much longer. Thankfully my careteam medically induced me into menopause to hopefully preserve my chance at having my own kids. For at least the next 5 years, I will receive a monthly shot that keeps me in menopause (hot flashes/night sweats are unreal) as well as take a drug called Arimidex daily that continues lowers my estrogen (since my hormones fed my tumor). This gives me the best chances at staying in remission since I am under age 35. Cancer does not discriminate. It doesn't care how old you are, if you have a family history, if you just applied for graduate school, etc. Early detection is LITERALLY at your fingertips, do your self-exams!! Advocate for yourself when something doesn't feel right. If you need an advocate, I'm an open book and all ears!
Jen Heckel @jen_heckel
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer at the age of 30. As a newlywed, we were just beginning life together when our world was turned upside down. I had a lumpectomy, chemo, radiation and fought my hardest to stay positive throughout. I am now a 5 year survivor and just took on the best title yet, Momma, to our sweet 3 month old baby boy. Life is good and I’m forever grateful for each day.
Brooke Boersen @bboersen
My name is Brooke and I am a breast cancer warrior! I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer with lymph node involvement at twenty six years old & have been on this crazy journey for approximately a year and a half. I want to share my story in hopes that we can all remind each other that we are never “too young” to check ourselves, truly value our breasts, and really get to know our individual bodies.
I am not going to lie to you... this journey has truly tested me in more ways than I could ever have imagined. However, I have committed to never identifying as my diagnosis because I am so much more than that. In the last year or so it has been difficult to discern exactly who I am while also acknowledging that this difficult road of treatments and healing was inevitable. So as I complete my last treatment, I remind myself that I am arriving at a new season and with it, a new me - my next shot at life (if you will).
So this October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I challenge you to have the real conversations about breast health, do your research, check yourself, ask questions, and if possible, donate to research organizations and local cancer support programs. It truly matters & together we can all make a difference!
P.S. We can be brave. We can be vulnerable. We can lift one another up. And we can feel it all deeply.
Alexa Shiver @ashiver_4
Hey y’all. My name is Alexa Shiver I am 21 years old and from Phenix City, Alabama. First I want to say thank you to educatingthewheelers and for all they are doing to spread awareness about breast cancer. I wanted spread my story and hopefully it can help someone else’s life. I am currently battling breast cancer. I just recently had my double mastectomy two weeks ago and it went very smoothly and the recovery process is going great. A reaction from most people is, “you’re only 21” and truth is, yes 21 and battling breast cancer is shocking. I want to spread awareness and the fact that breast cancer does not discriminate, young or not young it is real and it is a disease that effects all ages. My twin sister, Allison, and I have both been diagnosed and are both battling this disease at a young age. I want people to know there is hope, there is treatment, and there is a way. Breast cancer is not my story and not what defines me. Breast cancer is just a chapter in my life and my sisters life. For those of y’all that are battling this disease, have beat this disease, or know someone that has lost their battle to this disease , I am praying for you. We are in this together. We got this. Keep your head up, keep fighting, keep believing, and most importantly keep being you.
Allison Shiver @allison_shiver22
Hey y’all! My name Allison Shiver. I am a 21 year old who is currently battling stage 2 inductal carcinoma (breast cancer). I was diagnosed in December of 2019, and honestly, hearing the word cancer truly took me back. I was wondering, “How in the world? I am so young! As of now, I have undergone a total of 9 chemotherapy treatments and a double mastectomy. I still have 11 more rounds of chemo left and the final step of my reconstruction. Honestly, my journey has been the smoothest I could’ve ever imagined. I have been blessed with some of the best doctors and surrounded by the best community in the world. I like to say that my courage is fear that has said its prayers. The Lord has truly been my rock throughout this journey, and he continues to show up and show out! I am far from strong; I am a weak person with a very very very strong God. I just wanted to jump on here to not only tell y’all my story, but to also bring some more awareness. It doesn’t matter how young you might be, how healthy you might feel, or what gender you are, PLEASE go get checked! Do your annuals, and if you have any symptoms call your doctor immediately! For those of you who are battling this disease right along me, none of us fight alone. I am praying for you, your doctors, your family, and everyone involved. To those families who have lost a loved one to this terrible diseased, my heart goes out to y’all. Always remember, God gives his toughest battle to his strongest warrior
Brittany Land @britttlanddd
“At the age of 24, I was diagnosed with stage 3, triple positive breast cancer after accidentally discovering a lump in my breast. I immediately had a double mastectomy in October of 2019 and have been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for a year now. My last treatment is in November and I cannot wait to go from a breast cancer thriver to a survivor! My advice to other young women is that breast cancer does not discriminate against age and a self breast exam could truly save your life. “ -Brittany Land