Definition of breast cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. Cancer.gov
Truth: About 1 in 8 women in the United States (between 12 and 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Truth: In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
Truth: About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2010. Less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases occur in men.
Truth: About 39,840 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1991. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness. Breastcancer.org
I met her about 7 years ago when I started my then new job. She was warm, welcoming, very helpful, and cheerful with a side of sarcasm. I noticed her eye for style and the fabulous shoes and handbags she wore. Her appreciation for art and literature was and is a breath of fresh air. Once we found out that we had that Southern thing in common, we were pretty much inseparable!
I also noticed the little pink ribbon reminders in her office. It was only those little reminders and the occasional “I have an appointment’s” a few years ago that would give any indication of what’s behind that sweet smile and the weight that those killer Manolo’s were carrying. I’m honored to introduce you to one of the most fabulous women I know who would much rather be known for her shoes, Miss Debra.
Here’s Debra’s story in her words:
“I found a lump doing a monthly self-exam. I went to my doctor to get her opinion and she sent me for a mammogram immediately. The mammogram showed a .5mm mass in the muscle tissue of my left breast. That is special… it is called an angio sarcoma.
I was referred to the St. Josephs Cancer Treatment people. They decided to remove the lump. During the biopsy, they gave me another Latin word “in-situ” which means, localized. That is a good word. They prescribed 40 rounds of radiation. The radiation was easy to deal with, and even though it leaves a smoking pile of rubble where healthy cells used to be, they get the bad cells too. Fast forward 8 years, routine mammogram found another lump. Yikes! No, it did not come back; it was another kind of cancer cell. Still treatable; less scary. More damage to the healthy tissue. This was called ductal carcinoma. I like knowing what words mean, it takes away their power. Those words meant that the cancer cells where in a milk duct. I am free and clear now. I feel sure that whatever comes down the path, I can handle it.
I know this all sounds mechanical. But that is really how it felt. I think a part of my brain went numb when I heard the diagnosis and I went onto auto- pilot.
Lucky for me, my doctors were not on auto-pilot.
Lucky for me, I did do the exams.
Lucky for me, mammograms are still a great way to catch cancer early.
Lucky lucky lucky.
Some people are vocal about their battle with breast cancer, and I am glad they are. Only through sharing can we keep fighting the good fight. I am a private person, uncomfortable with emotional things. I found and still do find, that people treat you differently when they find out about your issue. Cancer Patient is one of the hats I have worn. I am also a mother, a friend, an artist. I prefer to be defined by the positive things in my life. I want to be surrounded by positive people.
In fact sharing with people through Tamara’s photographs is a better way for me to convey my gratitude with my doctors and the people that love me and have faith that I will thrive.
Cancer does not define me. I define me.
Peace and Love,
Please join us in raising Breast Cancer Awareness and most importantly…. Celebrating LIFE!
All Images Copyright Tamara Young 2010 – All Rights Reserved
“My Dear Friend, Thing 1-2
I could never thank you enough for inviting me into your life, for inspiring me and for allowing me to share this very personal part of your life. I celebrate you.