Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients may learn about facing their own conditions from women who have faced similar experiences before through their breast cancer patient stories. The Breastlink Angels 2014 calendar featured many inspiring breast cancer patient stories. Barbara’s story was presented in the January chapter.
Breast Cancer Patient Stories | Barbara S.
- Diagnosis – 1981, 1983, 1991
- 1981 – Ductal Carcinoma left breast mastectomy.
- 1983 – Bilateral lung metastasis breast cancer.
- 1991 – Ductal carcinoma right breast. Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction tissue expander.
In 1981, at the age of 34 I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in my left breast and had a mastectomy with no reconstruction. Two years later I was an early recipient of the TRAM FLAP reconstruction.
Today my tumor would be classified as triple negative and I would receive chemotherapy after surgery. I did not receive chemotherapy until two years later when I was diagnosed with bi-lateral lung metastasis and given the prognosis of 18 months to live. Thankfully, after 6 months of chemotherapy the masses disappeared, defying the odds.
In 1991, I was diagnosed with a new primary breast cancer in the remaining breast. I had a second mastectomy and immediate reconstruction with an expander and permanent implant. My early age of diagnosis and a second diagnosis are red flags for the BRAC1 gene, however, I was not diagnosed with the gene mutation until 2006 when my sister had ovarian cancer. It is so exciting to witness the progress in breast cancer treatment since my original diagnosis in 1981.
I am grateful to be a survivor and know the future holds great promise in treatment and diagnosis for women with breast cancer. We are the faces of survivors.
“Thrivers turn suffering to their advantage by adopting a more deeply appreciative and energized, full engagement in daily living.”
To thrive is to take back your power and connect to your power within. I have been blessed to share with women as we take back our power after breast cancer. Since 1988 when Dr. John West and the new Breast Care Center began, we have been training survivors to support newly diagnosed patients. In my 24 years as a facilitator of the Women’s Support Group at the Breast Care Center, my life has been enriched as I share the journey with so many women as they shift from fear to taking back their power and realizing their own strength.
I am an avid gardener. My mentor and my role model was my Dad, who gardened every day of his life until the day he died. Flowers and gardening have always been a love of my family. For me to be in the garden is always grounding and healing. It is a reminder to take time to smell the flowers.
I also love to travel. It’s my desire to take time to smell the roses as many times and in as many places as possible. I was honored to share my story of surviving and thriving at the Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon. And what a reward… to hear that women had their first mammogram following that event.
The message is powerful: breast cancer can be a turning point for positive change. As women we must honor ourselves, connect with our power and thrive.