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

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

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