According to the most recent figures, Breastcancer.org estimates that one in eight American women will develop breast cancer during their lifetimes. The good news is that many women survive breast cancer each day. In 2011 alone, there were over 2.6 million breast-cancer survivors in the US. What to Expect reached out to our community members who battled breast cancer and wanted to share their stories. During their childbearing years, these women faced devastating circumstances and fought with bravery for themselves, their families, and especially their young children.
Here are their incredible stories.
“MY INSPIRATION WAS MY SON.”
“I first noticed a lump on my left breast on October 2007. I was 26-years-old and my first child was only two. I went to a doctor to get it checked and he told me it looked like fibroadenoma, which is a noncancerous tumor that is common in young woman. When the biopsy revealed that it was breast cancer I was very scared and cried a lot. The uncertainty of my future made me worry about my two-year-old son. Because of my young age, the doctor recommended that I have chemotherapy and a mastectomy on both breasts. My inspiration was my son, Alik. He told me, “Everything will be okay mommy. I love you”. The only thing that kept me going was me need to stay alive and be strong for my son. Today I am cancer free, healthy, and nine months pregnant with my second child.”
“MY BABY SAVED MY LIFE.”
“Six months after getting married I went to my OB to discuss getting pregnant. He suggested I have a baseline mammogram due to a family history of breast cancer. Two days after Christmas I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In March, I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction — a process that lasted through August of 2011. I opted for surgery over chemo so I could attempt to get pregnant sooner, although that was all up in the air. Miraculously, after only two months of fertility drugs, I became pregnant in January — just a year after my diagnosis! I look forward to welcoming my baby any day now. This baby saved my life, because I would never have been sent for that mammogram if I hadn’t seen the OB while trying to get pregnant.”
“I DIDN’T WANT CANCER TO TAKE AWAY MY DREAMS.”
“One day, I happened to see Giuliana Rancic on TV talking about her mastectomy. I was amazed at her strength and decided to book a mammogram immediately. During a baseline mammogram, they found small areas that looked suspicious, and after a biopsy, I found out I had breast cancer. I was diagnosed in December 2011, the same year I gave birth to my daughter, Meredith, and the same month of my marriage. In March of 2012 I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. My biggest inspiration was my little girl. I needed to be there for her and didn’t want her to grow up without a mommy. In July 2012, my husband and I found out we were expecting again. I didn’t want to let cancer take away my dreams. It is a miracle that I found the disease so early.”
“I’M ALREADY CALLING MYSELF A SURVIVOR.”
“I found out I had breast cancer when I was seven months pregnant with my fourth child. I had felt a lump in my breast, but I thought it was probably just my mammary glands getting ready for milk production. A couple days before my husband’s 40th birthday, I got the call. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with shock and disbelief. Two weeks after my diagnosis I started chemotherapy and did four rounds before delivering my baby. I did another four rounds of chemo after the baby was born, followed by a double mastectomy, a full hysterectomy, and one last breast reconstruction. Through it all, my husband has been a rock-solid hero. I let the people in my life help tend to my children. The support I received was amazing. Baby Sarah is healthy and unscathed by chemo. My nodes were clear, and I am already calling myself a survivor. My attitude now is: How can I pay it forward?”
“I’M READY TO START A NEW CHAPTER.”
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. I went through all of the available treatments, including a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. I also had breast-reconstruction surgery a few years later. The doctors told me I might never be able to have children because of the treatment, but that if I had a clean bill of health for three years, I could begin trying to conceive. It’s been five years since my diagnosis, and I am now eight months pregnant with a baby girl. I’m still happily married and ready to start this new chapter of my life!”
“EVEN ON MY WORST DAYS MY KIDS BRING JOY TO MY HEART.”
“I was 24 years old, 14 weeks pregnant, and a stay-at-home mom of three when I was diagnosed with stage II infiltrating ductal carcinoma. I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene, so the doctors formed a plan that would save both me and my baby. I had six rounds of a low-dose chemotherapy that was effective in shrinking my tumor while not harming my baby. I was induced at 34 weeks and had a perfect 4lb 14oz baby girl. Two weeks later, I had a bilateral mastectomy and four weeks after surgery I had chemotherapy again once a week for 12 weeks. The only thing that kept my spirits up through my journey has been my children and husband. Even on my worst days they bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face.”