Thursday, February 15, 2007
My mom sets the pace at 81
One of the things I look forward to every June is the Race for the Cure, held in Washington, D.C. Each year my daughter, my mother and I wake up early, put our race shirts on, pin our numbers on our chests, our "In Honor " banners on our backs and walk the three plus miles downtown It's always a special occasion. That's because we walk in honor of my mother, a 30-year breast cancer survivor. Thirty years!!!! And she still walks every year, even at the age of 81.

It's a thrill to take part in the race for two reasons. One is, obviously, we give thanks for my mother's survival, but the second is even more rewarding. I love to see the look on women's faces when they notice the "30 year breast cancer survivor" written on my mom's back. Many of those walking are breast cancer patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s. And for them to know that someone can survive way into their golden years after breast cancer gives them hope. Many of them hug her; some cry but almost all thank her for giving them a reason to keep fighting.

When my mother's cancer was diagnosed in the early '70s, there wasn't a lot being done for breast cancer patients. She found the lump while bathing. It was the size of a dime. Her doctor figured it was just a cyst, but the biopsy proved him wrong. It was cancer. For a lump the size of a large pea, she had her entire right breast removed. But the physicians said she was lucky. The cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes and she didn't need chemotherapy or radiation treatments. But she did lose her right breast and never had reconstruction. That's just not something they did back then.

She's had a few scares, but she remains cancer free. She's never smoked, eats well, exercises and sees the doctor twice a year. She lives with the knowledge that she will always be a cancer patient, but she knows she's beaten the odds and that she's been sort of a pioneer in the fight against the disease.

Thirty years later, there are so many more treatments, more diagnostic tests for breast cancer, and women are beating it every day. Breast cancer is not a death sentence. There is hope - lots of it. Just ask my mom.

I'm curious to hear about your experiences with breast cancer.
This made me cry with joy and thanksgiving. I am a 10 year breast cancer survivor so I understand all of the emotions your mother has lived with. God bless her and all of the others who travel our path. Faith and hope are beautiful things.
I am a two time breast cancer survivor, and the latest episode was three years ago. I am well on my way to being cancer free five years and loving every minute of it. At 35, I am very excited at the prospect of surviving until my eighties, so I can be a 50 year survivor of this disease.
Well I found my cancer five years ago, it did spread to the limphs and kept working thru out my chemo and radiation. It was funny to see some people not even wanting to look at me while I had no hair. Because I chose that I was beautiful without hair. Others were so afraid to ask and my view was if you ask I'll tell you what is going on. But this was nothing in comparison to my friend that kept working overnight while going thru the same thing I did. My view was that as long as I continue to work I will forget my pains and will not feel sorry for myself. Well this work for me. So far I'm doing ok, have two jobs for the past six years. And my motto is "Never give up, never, ever surrender."
Congratulations!
I'm a 20 years old survivor, had lst Breast cancer, on 1987, and on 2005, had a second one, today, am cancer free. Hope to live another 20 years, I'm 66 y.old. Dont walk; run, and keep going.:)
My Mom also is a survivor, sge was dx at 34, she is now 81. She had a radical mastectomy; bi-lateral, and is still growing strong. The sad part of this story is my sister, who at age 56
lost her fight to breast cancer on 8/6/06.Ironic isn't it that 50 + years later, with all our technology and advances in medicine, I still lost my sister. She had chemo, radiation and hormone therapy . A lumpectomy, not a mastectomy. I think if she had went with traditionl surgery, she'd still be here.
I am 35 years old and recently diagnosed. Dr's would not believe that the 1 cm pea I kept feeling was cancer. I kept going to different doctors until I found one to take a sono in addition to the mammo which the pea was not showing up on.
I had a mastectomy b/c I am not taking any chances. My Mom has had breast cancer for 25 years & it spread to the bones. Mine did not go to the lymph nodes so I am on tamoxifen as a preventative for the other side. The main thing is to stay positive and if you feel something is wrong- it is. Be persistent and get the attention you need to get well!
I am a non-hodgkins lymphoma survivor-it has been a year and a half since I completed my chemotherapy. What I would give to look a 30 year lymphoma survivor in the face-it would be more powerful than anything any doctor could say to me. I understand that the medical community is working furiously to find the answers needed to prevent further tragedies, but one thing they could definitely do better is help to connect newly diagnosed patients with long-term survivors. Once a cancer patient is considered "cured" the doctors take them out of the forefront of their minds while they treat the sick, but then they are unable to provide faces of survivors that could inspire the new patients. Think how powerful it would be if a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient could have a picture of the 30-year survivor to put on her refigerator! Marilyn O, Needham, Massachusetts
Hello, I find it so strange to be writing about breast cancer. I was diagnosed in Oct. 2006 and had two lumpectomys and now radiation treatments. No family history. I am touched to hear from so many brave women. Thank-you for your inspiration!
God Bless.....
I am a four year breast cancer survivor. Your story is very encouraging. I lost my mom to breast cancer at the age of 52. You sometimes hear all of the bad. It is so great to hear the good.
As a white male nurse and a Vietnam veteran, who just happens to be the only white person in my neighborhood, I have watched our medical system fail the black community. Why? They do not have nor can afford health insurance, and a visit to the doctor costs now around $50. My neighbors can barely make ends meet with their utilities and food. This nation, which is so wealthy, owes these people better treatment. Nothing will change until the whole health system is changed. We need national health care, and I feel it is a disgrace to America to exclude my black neighbors and friends from basic health care. As a nurse, I try to help my neighbors, but the system needs to change. These are our brothers and sisters. They deserve better.
Congratulations to your mother! It's so sad that there are so few survivors from that era. My grandmother was also a 30 year survivor of breast cancer. She died recently at the age of 78, but she had a happy life with her family and remained cancer free.
I'm a 31 year stage 3 melanoma survivor. Had major surgery and plastic surgery on my back in my early twenties. No chemo, no radiation, no drugs except morphine for pain. I don't get regular checkups, but I do protect myself against the sun all the time, and eat healthy as much as possible and I'm active physically. I don't believe that conventional medical cancer interventions work long term.
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