I promise

"I promise, Suzy... Even if it takes the rest of my life." - Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?


Just in recent years, Triple Negative Breast Cancer has sparked interest in the news where instead of calling the tumor as ER-negative, PR-negative, and HER2-negative; researchers began using the shorthand term, "Triple Negative," dubbed the "new type" type of cancer. Being Triple Negative, you don't have a targeted therapy and that your only treatment option is chemotherapy.

Triple Negative is seen in about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple Negative is a very aggressive cancer that tends to strike younger women, pre-menopause, especially among African-American women and women who have BRCA1 mutations. The tumor tends to be fast growing and is less likely to show up on an annual mammogram. TN is more likely to metastasis early on; has a high rate of recurrence in the first 2-3 years from diagnosis and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to lack of specific, targeted treatment for TNBC.

Carpe diem

Seize Each new Day with Renewed Strength,
Believe in Yourself, Go forward with
Courage and faith
to face whatever Tomorrow may bring.

Chicks For Charity motto:

Enjoy life. Laugh a lot.
Work hard. Play hard.
Be thankful for our blessings.
Share the wisdom. Give back

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Success Story

Toledo's The Victory Center for cancer patient support services has selected me to write my success story to The Susan G. Komen Foundation to go along with their grant funding to TVC.

Project Title: Discovering Inner Strength: Support for Women with Breast Cancer
Project Organization: The Victory Center
Brief Summary of Success Story:
My husband and son had just left that day for vacation, when I found my lump by chance when I felt something along my bra band line under my breast. My heart just sunk, and I was in disbelief that my worst fear was now happening to me. I reacted fast and two days later I got in for a mammogram followed by an ultrasound. My 2cm. lump did not show up on the mammogram images and it was thought to be just a cyst but I insisted on a needle biopsy right then and there. Another two days go by, and I received the call from my doctor. I'm 41 and I have cancer.... I was numb; all I can think about is my son and now had to tell my husband who just totally broke down in tears. Two long weeks later, I met with my surgeon who told me that I have a rare and aggressive form of cancer that doesn't respond to hormone therapy and later learned from the Internet that there was a term for it, Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I knew I was in for a fight and had to be strong and stay focused. I opted for a lumpectomy, followed by an intense cocktail chemotherapy every other week for 3 1/2 months and then 33 radiation treatments. Currently, I am on a clinical trial for Bisphosphonate therapy research study as a preventative for bone cancer, taking 2 pills daily for 3 years. I am now a 1 year survivor and what scares me the most is the Triple Negative Breast Cancer's tendency of recurrence, the lack of treatments for it, and the need for more research.
Nearing the end of my treatments I felt lost; I was now unemployed for my employers didn't hold my positions for me…what do I do now? I turned to The Victory Center for support, trying to figure out my new "normal”. At The Victory Center, I was surrounded by people who didn't mind talking about cancer. I immediately got involved in their Breast Cancer support group where their group therapist, Nicole, is very compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable. The support group has helped me rejuvenate my self-image and ease the transition that I've been going through. All the positive energy that flows through the room during group sessions has such an uplifting effect on my mental attitude. I have also taken advantage of The Victory Center's Massage Therapy where I can go and unwind, relax and free my mind of worries for a short while, while the massage therapist works my muscles, easing my tensions and then go home feeling renewed. As a 9 month client of The Victory Center, I see them as my extended family, my sisterhood, my home away from home. I have been proud to represent The Victory Center survivors at various events, my way of giving back by being a voice for TVC. I have not yet participated in TVC's exercise programs but, I am eager to find some energy and time knowing the importance of physical activity and its role in breast cancer recurrence. As I am getting back on my feet again, my new normal is living for the moment, be happy, enjoy life, my family and friends and to reach out, give reassurance and educate breast cancer patients particularly in the area of TNBC. To raise awareness and funding for cancer, I've participated in walks for Making Strides against Breast Cancer, Relay for Life and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. God is Great, Life is Good.
- Melissa Paskvan

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Striking Out... Bowl Down Cancer Event

Representing The Victory Center and as cancer survivors in the fight against Cancer, Joann and I rolled out the first bowling ball down the lane kicking off the event, Striking Out... Bowl Down Cancer during the opening ceremony on Oct. 2, 2010. Proceeds from this event went to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and America Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Record Breaking Race For The Cure 2010 - "Imagine Life Without Breast Cancer."

I was part of the largest 17th Annual Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure to date! More than 19,000 registered participants including more than 1,500 survivors have helped raise more than $981,000 on September 26, 2010. I had a great time meeting up with some friends from McAuley High School who came out to honor me. I really loved it that a bunch of motorcycle riders lined their motorcycles along Summit St. and revved their engines as we walked past them during the walk. Totally amazes me by how many supporters come up to congratulate me as I'm walking including cheerleaders who all came up and hugged me at the end of the race and handed me pink carnations.

Vote 4 The Victory Center daily in the month of October to help them win $250k grant

Keep the votes coming for October, I want this win of $250,000 Pepsi grant for the Toledo's The Victory Center so they can build a bigger facility for cancer patients support services. I'm a BC survivor and patient of Victory Center and I support this project! I would like to give back to The Victory Center by getting your votes. Click link below:http://www.refresheverything.com/newhome4thevictorycenter or from your cell phone Text* 102523 to Pepsi (73774) Victory Center has done wonderful things for me: support group, massages, facials, reflexology and event outings. Thank you, Melissa- Triple Negative Breast Cancer Survivor


  • Purchase a facility suited to the 30% growth we're experiencing.
  • To provide over 6,000 services yearly to local cancer patients.
  • Have 4 treatment rooms and 2 large multi-purpose spaces.
  • Equip our new facility with an improved media and educational center.
  • Continue to help men, women, and children diagnosed with cancer.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Find the cure.
A safe cure.
One that does not cut.
One that does not burn.
One that does not poison.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting Psyched For The Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure In The Morning In Toledo, OH

"Each morning when I open my eyes 

I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. "

 - Groucho Marx

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Warriors In Pink - View Video

My friend and classmate, Elise Jones celebrating my victory at Cleveland's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sept. 11, 2010.y ... very touching Elise, thank you and love you sister!
Warriors in Pink - View Video

My Pink Warrior Friend And Classmate, Elise Jones

Elise Destinedforgreatness Brooks Support Breast Cancer Awareness, race for the cure today CSU Wolstein Center! I'm there ..hey Melissa you're my Shero, to my Aunt Barb Kimbrough we love you and miss you

    • Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan Thank you Elise, post pics please..... love you!
      I'm walking The Komen race on the 26th!
      Sunday at 5:39pm · ·

    • Elise Destinedforgreatness Brooks I did a video for the Ford I'm a warrior booth I'll try to post tommorow. I supported the race but didn't participate! I will next year definitely! My shirt and scarf are warrior wear! I also walked around with a pink sign that said in memory of and I said my aunt and in celebration of my classmate and friend Melissa!
      Sunday at 6:30pm ·

    • Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan awwww! You're so sweet! I like you're scarf and bandana pic, I'm going to add it to my blog. Can't wait till see the video.
      Sunday at 8:45pm ·

Friday, August 6, 2010

1 Year Ago Today, My World Came Crumbling Down...

Reflecting back on August 6, 2009 of what I was feeling for my world was about to crash down when I got that phone call from my doctor saying my lab results came back positive for breast cancer. I couldn't talk, couldn't ask questions, I was stunned with disbelief that my worst fear was now reality. First thing I thought, was my son... the possibility of him being without his mommy and how do I tell him that I'm sick?
I never cried, I wasn't angry but, I was really scared, scared of the unknown.... Suddenly, nothing else mattered, I couldn't see pass "today"... Am I going to die? How much time do I have? How bad was my cancer? Did it spread? Is it in my lymph nodes? Is it treatable? Will I lose my breast? Will I have chemo and radiation? ...and OMG, am I'm going to lose my hair?... Questions that weren't answered for 2 weeks. Can you imagine all the fear racing through my head and trying to keep myself together for we have not yet told our son? I think my husband was more worried than I was, I had to stay focused. I knew I had to be strong, and I knew I was in for a long fight ahead of me.
Today, "Life is Good" is the normal and, I now live for the moment. I am a survivor!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"I Promise Suzy... Even If It Takes The Rest Of My Life"

(L) Suzy Komen (R) with sister Nancy G. Brinker, Founder and CEO Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Beautiful pic, beautiful woman that inspires me to fight harder for all us women. Thank you Nancy for her continued legacy and for making such a tremendously huge impact in the breast cancer awareness and research movement...... Still clinging on to hope that they find a cure to end breast cancer forever!
I'm approaching my 1 year survivorship end of August.

Today marks the anniversary passing of Susan G. Komen on August 4, 1980. Her sister, Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure continues her legacy in a "promise" launching the breast cancer movement globally to protect all women and and do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Every Year We Win The Fight Against Breast Cancer Through Early Detection...

One year ago yesterday I discovered my lump through early detection and it changed my life forever. One year ago today, I demanded that mammogram to be done ASAP and got in the next day. Today, I look back at everything I've been through this past year and I actually amazed myself on how hard I fought to win this fight and the amount of strength I have proven to myself, family and friends and people I've met along the way. Now, it's that time again to get my mammogram scheduled and I hope you do too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chicks For Charity, Chix-mix July 21, 2010 Benefiting The Victory Center

Fabulous time at The Chicks for Charity event, a huge turnout, good food, friends and mother-in-law and a whole lotta money raised benefiting The Victory Center. Little did I know that I would be called up to the podium, in front of hundreds of women, sitting silent with all eyes on me.... I gave a short speech of my survivorship and told them what my "VICTORY" is "I'm here, I'm alive and I'm doing well."

Update: About 700 in attendance raising $30,000 for The Victory Center, Woo Hoo!

   "What Cancer Cannot do"

Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love
  It cannot shatter hope
  It cannot corrode faith
      It cannot eat away peace
            It cannot destroy confidence
     It cannot kill friendships
            It cannot shut out memories
       It cannot silence courage
            It cannot reduce eternal life
          It cannot quench the Spirit

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life Is Good As A Survivor...

"Life is Good"
Friends and family, most of you know that In August 2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy, chemo, recently finished all of my radiation treatments and am now living my life "cancer free!" Looking back, wow!... I got through this! That Chemo was wicked, I remember telling my husband about a week after the first Chemo treatment that I can't do this, this is alwful and that the cancer is going to come back again so what's the point. I had to find that inner strength in me again to just do it, take one day at a time, be determined and focus on reaching the next milestone.

My mother haven't been there for support, we haven't spoke since last September - a lot of family drama with her that I just couldn't deal with. I just want to say it means so much to me the amount of support you all have given me and am forever grateful for your friendship. Thank you, thank you again for all of your prayers, kind thoughts and especially cheering me on motivating me to stay focused, fighting even harder to beat this cancer... "I won't back down" - Tom Petty
With all my post updates and photos, I kinda felt like you all was going through this with me. I hope that I showed you that breast cancer is a very serious disease, it is beatable and again your best defense is early detection. If you suspect a lump no matter how small, don't hesitate and get it checked out by your doctor ASP, time is critical.

A poem I received as a Survivor at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk


Thank you for standing by me,
and lending an ear.
For helping me out just by being near.

Thank you for cheering me on or
saying a prayer.
For holding me up and showing
you care.

Thank you for making me laugh
and giving me hope.
For showing support and
helping me cope.

Thank you for all that
you've done and all
that you do.
I'm so very fortunate
to have someone
like you

-Linda Nielsen

Radiation went well, burnt and made me tired. I embarrassed a male intern who wanted to examine me and I said, "Doesn't it look like a dried up baked potato?", He just smirked. My skin peeled, healed nicely and looks pretty good considering. I've lost 5 toenails that peeled off and very slowly growing back. I had surgery again last month to have my chemo port removed from my chest. I have about 2 inches of hair on my head now, a lot of white, kinda like a salt/pepper look.

It's been a little more than 2 months post treatments and it was kinda weird that I didn't have all these appointments to go to every day. I'm unemployed now, leaving behind 2 great jobs to just focus on me getting better. I'm in a real financial crunch that I've never faced before causing me some anxiety and stress. Going to devote my summer to my health - gain my strength back, build my immune system up again and look for work in the fall. Doc says I need to exercise so I've been taking a lot of walks on my "crushed" foot and even walked "Relay for Life" and "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer " walk raising $130 through generous donations, thank you very much. I've been going to the Victory Center for weekly massages and facials and support group meetings which I found interesting sharing similar stories.

There will be no hormone therapy for me since my cancer is triple negative and doesn't respond to those treatments, chemo was my only option. Also, my cancer is aggressive and does have a tendency to want to reoccur in 2-3 years. Nutrition will be a major factor in preventing reoccurrence, so my goal is to keep working on balancing my diet trying to cut out as much sugar possible, need to work on low-fat, and Oh, 1 or 2 beers only on "special occassions"!... no biggie, not like I drink that much anyways. I am going to go see a Nutritionist for advise since I'm such a picky eater. After this month, I will only be going for follow up visits every 3 months now. At the end of August, I'll have my 1st mammogram and MRI since my diagnosis, a little anxious about it but optomistic that it will be just fine. I'll keep you posted on those results. Until then, have a safe summer and hopefully I'll see some of you around.
Peace, Love and Good Health, Melissa Stukenborg Paskvan

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lump Discovery

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My husband had just left that day for Traverse City when that evening I felt a lump on my left breast along the bra band. At first I thought it was just my rib, maybe a little swollen. After comparing it with the right breast, I realized it was different from the left and couldn't believe it was actually a breast lump. I was thinking this just can't be happening and my heart just sunk. I was down and it was late and there was nothing I can do that night so I went to bed. The next morning, Monday, I kept trying to call my family doctor but couldn't get through so I called Toledo Hospital to schedule a Mammogram. I told them that I couldn't get ahold of my doctor and needed a mammogram appt. right away and asked if there was any cancellations that day. They said, " how about 8:30am tomorrow morning?"
I said, "I'll be there." I think they said they'll get ahold of my doctor for the referral. I didn't want to tell my husband for he was on vacation with our son, I knew if I told him, he would worry and come back home. I decided to wait until after I have the mammogram when I know more of what I'm dealing with.

Tuesday, August 3, 2009
I went to Toledo Hospital for my mammogram, haven't had one since my baseline at age 36. I told them that I found a lump and they put a marker on it in that area and took digital images and told me that this was the newest state of the art technology that is more accurate and shows more detail. After the mammogram, they performed an ultrasound of the lump in my breast, I saw a large mass showed up on the monitor and it looked huge to me. I asked if that was the tumor and she replied, "yes." I asked if the tumor was really that big and she replied that it was a medium size lump measuring 2cm.

The breast cancer doctor told me the results of my mammogram and said it came back negative. I told him it's there I can feel it. He said there is a lump that showed up on the ultrasound but didn't show up on the mammogram because my tissues were too dense. The doc said it's probably nothing to worry about that it was probably just a cyst but said I might want to make an appointment with my family doctor to get a referral for a surgeon to get a biopsy done, that that's the only way you'll know for sure that its not cancer. I asked if he can do it now. He replied, "the biopsy, yeah I can do it now, do you want to do it now? I said yes, "that's why I'm here today, I'm concerned". He then asked, "Do you have any place I have to be in the next half hour? No, nothings more important right now. Doc said he would need to set up and will need to call Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman to get a referral for the procedure. They tried to call several times to Dr. Hoffman and were waiting on a call back from her. At this time, I called my mother and told her about the lump and that I was getting a biopsy done it, she says it's probably just a cyst that she gets them all the time. After waiting awhile for a returned call from Dr. Hoffman, The Doc decided to go a head with the needle biopsy and get the referral later. The doc inserted a needle into my breast into the tumor as I watched the needle poking the tumor on the ultrasound screen. After the Doc got the specimen, I asked him what he thought. Doc said, "before the biopsy, I was 50/50 on it, now that I did the biopsy, I say there's about 25% chance you could be cancer but I really think it's just a cyst for as I was doing the biopsy, the lump changed in shape leading me to believe that it's not solid". The Doc further said, " I don't want to say too much, you'll have to wait for the lab results". lump

So I went home feeling relieved, thinking I just have a cyst in my breast. I called my husband in Traverse City and told him about the lump, mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. I told him that it was nothing to worry about that the Doc thinks the lump is just a cyst and should have the lab results back in a couple of days. My husband did come home the next day.

Thursday, August 4, 2009
Early afternoon, my husband was out front working in the yard when I answered the phone, it was my family doctor, Dr. Beth. she made small talk, asking about my son and talked a little of her son. Dr. Beth then said she has my lab results and I said, "ok". She then said, 'it is positive" and again I said, "ok" and was just shocked with this news. Dr. Beth said, " We're going to move quickly with this, remove the lump, take a look at your lymph nodes and decide where we need to go from there. All I could say is "ok" and felt numb. Dr. Beth said she's going to get me in to see a breast care surgeon in the next couple of weeks and asked if I have one in mind, I told her, Dr. Butler. Dr. Beth said, "I'm sorry, I hate telling you like this over the phone but I don't want to delay this, we're going to take care of this." Dr. Beth further said, I couldn't believe this myself, you're young and always been so healthy." I hung up the phone, and couldn't believe what I just heard, I'm now living my worst fear, I have breast cancer!

I remained calm and didn't cry but had all these thoughts and fears in my head," Am I going to die?", "My son living without his mother", "What stage is my breast cancer, has it spread?", "Is it in my lymph nodes?", "I, now have to tell my husband and how am I going to tell my 7 year old son?" All of a sudden nothing else mattered, I have breast cancer! Not going to worry about jobs, money or material things because right now it doesn't matter, I'm going to die! I now had to go outside and break the bad news to my husband of 17 years after I assured him not to worry that I'll be Ok. I went outside and my husband asked me, "Who was on the phone?" I told him, "Dr. Beth". I think he asked, "What did she want?" I told him that she had my lab results and that they were positive, "I have breast cancer' and detailed him in on my conversation. The look on his face, he was just devastated. My husband broke down crying and grabbed me and held me in his arms and telling me, he's sorry. I still couldn't cry and kept telling him that I will be ok as I felt how much he was hurting. At this time, our mail lady approached us on the porch and asked what was wrong. I told her that I had just found out a few minutes ago from a call from my doctor that I have breast cancer and told her what was going on.

Now, our concern was how we're going to tell our son. We decided not to tell him at this time until after we see the surgeon and decide from there on how much to tell him. It was getting close to the time to pick our son up and we're thinking about how we're going to keeping our composure around our son without losing it. I went over to my mother's house and told her of the news, she was shocked and couldn't believe it for she had had lumps removed from her breast twice and they were benign. My husband had called both of his parents and told them of my cancer. I got a call back from Dr. Butler's office and a consultation visit was scheduled for in 2 weeks. 2 weeks of worry, still not knowing how bad my breast cancer was and not having any answers to the questions running through my head. I immediately took a leave of absence from my jobs as I had several medical appointments and constantly on the run for blood work, MRI, other testings, etc. and just trying to keep head together.

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need" - Rolling Stones

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 2010

"Life is Good"  In celebration of "Life is Good", I'll be participating in "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" on Saturday, May 8th at Levis Commons, Perrysburg, OH. to raise awareness and donations for research for this cause especially my type, triple negative breast cancer where chemotherapy is the only treatment available at this time. The day was cold, rainy and windy but raised $130 in generous donations from family and friends, thanks you for your support, much appreciated. - Melissa Paskvan 

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Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
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The SCAR Project

The SCAR Project
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Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project
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