Sisters in Strength and Survival 2

Two Women Who Have Beat Breast Cancer Stress 
Early Detection, Listening to Your Body, and Communication 
with Your Doctor as Keys to Success

Denise Holt

In 2007, after a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, specifically Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS).  I was devastated.  I decided to conduct some research and found that the type of breast cancer I was diagnosed with was considered “low grade,” and was in the very early stages.  The survival rate was very high. Although I had a good breast surgeon, it was extremely empowering to seek and gain knowledge of my health situation.  With the support of my family and friends, I had surgery to remove the cancer.

After about four years cancer free, I discovered a lump on the breast where I had reconstruction.  It was discovered that the breast cancer had resurfaced again and grew into the small lump.  I had surgery to remove the small lump and chemotherapy and radiation this time to ensure that there were no other cancer cells left behind.  I had chemotherapy and radiation solely for preventive reasons.  Mentally, this was a struggle. However, I prayed over it, thought about my then 6 year old son, and decided that I would do anything that I could do to decrease the chances of the cancer coming back, and to increase my chances of survival. I had chemotherapy and radiation for a limited period of time, and it wasn’t easy.

I hope that learning of my journey encourages people to focus on the importance of regular mammograms and early detection.  My initial detection came from a routine examination by my gynecologist who felt “thickening” in my breast.  I never felt the area of thickening that the doctor felt. I had no pain or lumps.  My second occurrence was detected early because I noticed a change and sought medical attention.  I strongly encourage all women to maintain regular self-examinations, doctor examinations, and mammograms.  Do your own research, ask questions, and monitor your bodies for any concerns.  Early detection does save lives. I am living proof.  I am a breast cancer survivor due to early detection.

Pat Winston

It was the morning of February 21, 2007. While in the shower performing my monthly breast self-exam, I discovered a small lump in my left breast. Being the conscious person that I am I immediately called my doctor requesting that my annual mammogram be moved up. On week later, I went to my doctor’s office, thinking the visit would be routine in nature. Nothing was routine about this visit. It was the day my life changed forever.

After the doctor reviewed the mammogram along with the ultra sound, MRI and the biopsy, I was soon diagnosed with triple negative Stage 1 breast cancer. The hardest thing was telling my husband and children I had breast cancer but through the grace of God, I was able to tell them. On March 15, I had surgery to remove the tumor. In May, I began my mammosite radiation treatment to kill any cancer cells that were lingering in my body. It was important for me to maintain my independence so I continued working and even drove myself to my treatments, extremely tired with no appetite but I persevered.

Today, I maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and walk 10 miles a week. I’m so thankful that with the love and support of my husband, family and friends, I’ve been cancer free for nine years! On my journey, I’ve discovered my life’s purpose: to share my story and journey so that I can spread words of encouragement, healing and hope to others. I’ve learned how to live in my body and trust my body’s wisdom and warning signs. As strange as it may sound, I’m grateful for this life lesson.

I am so grateful for this journey and the relationship I have with God. My motto is: “Never ask why me. Instead I say, why not me.” Hopefully, sharing my journey will help someone to know there is life, and abundant life, after cancer.