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I was diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer at the age of 26. This occurred in the summer of 2007, while we were getting ready to celebrate my son's 2nd birthday. The diagnosis was tough but I felt I could deal with anything. My older brother was diagnosed with acute leukemia six months prior and I thought that if he could fight cancer then so could I. I underwent chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomies, radiation and reconstructive surgery. It was not an easy time, but once this process was over, I started feeling like I was "normal" and I resumed my college education.

In the spring of 2009, I started to feel pain in my right shoulder (same side as my cancer). After being misdiagnosed, I sought help with a different oncologist and I was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer in my lymph nodes. I underwent more chemotherapy while continuing on with my studies. During routine scans in the spring of 2010, I found that my cancer had spread to my right lung. Now, this was a low blow to my family and me. We just couldn't seem to catch a break. I started on a different regimen and I underwent a new procedure called "Cyberknife". It is a very different take on radiation. The procedure seemed successful but the cancer has still been progressing in other areas of my body.


Today I am still fighting my cancer; despite the challenges, I am continuing to move forward in my life. I graduated from Pittsburg State University in May of 2011, with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. One weekend later, the devastating EF-5 tornado took the life of my grandfather and my husband's aunt. A friend looked at me and said, "I have survived the tornado and you have survived cancer." Have I really survived cancer?

 

My story isn't just a story about heartache and pain, or the sense of unfairness cancer has brought to my life, but really the story of being able to overcome obstacles. My life has never been "easy", but then who guaranteed that? I have many blessings: a healthy 6-year-old son, a wonderful marriage of 9 years and an amazing support group of family and friends. I have received a few awards for my volunteer and advocacy work. I am honored by this and determined to continue this type of work. I have managed a support group with the help of other "pink sisters" and the HOPE 4 You Breast Cancer Foundation. I have been able to substitute teach in two different school districts. I'm doing my best to advocate and to spread the word everyday about what breast cancer does to women and men. I consider myself a "metavivor" - I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend who is continually fighting every day for a tomorrow.


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