8 Things We Want Breast Cancer Survivors to Know Today

At Susan G. Komen, we celebrate those who have faced breast cancer every day of the year. But today, the 28th annual National Cancer Survivors Day, got us thinking about everyone who has ever had their world turned upside down by the words, “You have breast cancer.”

Here are eight things we want to make sure you know today, and every day:

1.    You Are Not Alone

In fact, you’re in the company of more than 3 million breast cancer survivors just in theKomen National Pic United States! And millions of family members and friends who have gone to appointments, cleaned, babysat, cooked, carpooled and so much more while their loved one faced breast cancer. Spread some love today to those who were by your side as you faced breast cancer, and if you start to feel discouraged, check out these powerful stories from women and men who have been right where you are.

2.    Life Is Different Now, and That’s OK

Breast cancer survivor and Executive Director of Komen Greater Atlanta, Cati Stone, said it best in one of our recent blogs: “People think it’s ‘life as usual’ after breast cancer. But it’s not.” You’re not the same person you once were. You may have a new appreciation for life or a surprising ability to not sweat the small stuff. You may also need time to recover physically and emotionally, so don’t feel like you have to jump back into all of your activities right away.

3.    That Lingering Fear…

… of a breast cancer recurrence is totally normal. After breast cancer treatment ends, many people are afraid they still have cancer or that it will come back. The truth is, breast cancer can recur at the original site, as well as spread to other parts of the body. That’s why it’s critical to visit your health care provider on a regular basis following treatment. There are also certain steps you can take to reduce your risk of a recurrence (#4).

Komen National Pic24.    Healthy Choices Go a Long Way

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise may help reduce your risk of a breast cancer recurrence. One analysis found that breast cancer survivors who got roughly three or more hours of moderate-paced walking a week had a 30 percent lower risk of death (from any cause) compared to less active survivors!

5.    For Many, Cancer is the New Reality

Women and men living with metastatic breast cancer don’t have the same treatment options as those who are diagnosed with early-stage disease. For many, the main goals of treatment are to control tumor growth and extend life, while trying not to compromise their quality of life. Metastatic patients need more: more support, more research, more awareness. To date, Komen has invested more than $133 million in over 350 research grants and clinical trials on metastatic breast cancer to understand the biology and find new treatments, while working with the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance and the Health of Women [HOW] Study to improve the lives of those with metastatic disease.

6.    There’s Always Something New to Learn

There’s a reason people say, “Knowledge is power.” By being thoroughly educated about your diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, you can feel more in control of your life again. So, the next time you’re heading for an appointment with your physician, grab a pen and paper and consider asking some of these questions about survivorship.

7.    It’s OK to Ask for Help

Your journey with breast cancer may have brought with it a whirlwind of emotions – shock, fear, denial, sadness, anger. Thinking about insurance, finances or finding services can be overwhelming. That’s why there are programs and organizations that offer resources, support and guidance. And it’s OK to ask for help. Says one fellow survivor: “I learned that if I took a hand offered to me, there was no telling what gifts I would receive.”

8.    We Consider You Part of the Family

This organization was founded more than 30 years ago on a promise between two Survivors 2014sisters. That’s now the promise we make to you and to the world – to end breast cancer, forever. We’re working each and every day to fulfill that mission, in laboratories and in communities around the globe. And every time you lace up your sneakers to Race for the Cure (or put on a pink tie, or bake pink cupcakes or support our partners), you’re making that work possible. Learn how you can support Komen in your neighborhood and join us online to celebrate survivors today and every day!

 

 

Meet our Honorary Team New Balance Survivor- Tara Ingling!

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Meet our 2015 Honorary Team New Balance Survivor, Tara Ingling!  The Honorary Team New Balance was formed in 1995 to celebrate stories of survival.  For each Race for the Cure, the Affiliate has the opportunity to choose a local survivor to be a part of Honorary Team New Balance.  These members are honored for their personal perseverance against breast cancer and dedication to raising breast cancer awareness.

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Tara’s Story

I was 37 years old, had no family history of breast cancer, and NO risk factors. So why did a voice inside my head continue to tell me I needed to have a mammogram? I asked my OB/GYN for two years to order a baseline mammogram for me, but she felt it was not necessary.  Finally, the third year that voice was no longer a whisper so I decided I would not take no for an answer.

After several mammograms and a biopsy I was diagnosed with high grade DCIS (aggressive ductal  carcinoma in situ).  Luckily, my cancer was caught very early and considered to be stage 0 or 1.  The fact that I have two young children that need me around for a long time made my decision on how I wanted to treat this cancer pretty simple.  I wanted to do what gave me the best survival rate and what would help me to live my life without constantly worrying and looking over my shoulder.  I chose to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction.

With the support of my amazing husband, family, friends, and an incredible team of doctors, I am proud to say that as of March 21, 2015 I am a two year survivor.  There were certainly days that I asked God, “Why me?” But I have tried to turn that around and ask him, “What can I learn from this and how can I help others?” I began volunteering for Susan G. Komen and have met, and hopefully helped, several women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Along this journey I have met so many amazing and inspiring survivors as well as some women I will forever call my friends.

As a dear friend of mine once said, “We should all be so in love with each day.” If you take anything from my story, please live each day with a purpose and never forget to listen when God is speaking to you.

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Our Woman Crush Wednesday, Inger Bakaric!

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Our “Woman Crush Wednesday” today is Inger Bakaric!  Inger is a one year breast cancer survivor, serves on the Komen Ozark Race for the Cure Steering Committee and is our New Balance Honorary Team Survivor!

Honorary Team New Balance was formed in 1995 to celebrate stories of survival and to honor athletes who have made a difference in the fight against breast cancer. For each Race for the Cure, the Affiliate has the opportunity to choose a local survivor to be a part of Honorary Team New Balance. These members are honored for their personal perseverance against breast cancer and dedication to raising breast cancer awareness.

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Whatever It Takes-Inger’s Story

In July 2012 I went in for my regularly scheduled mammogram. I was a healthy, active 44 year old with no family history of breast cancer. I pointed out a small bump that I had recently found, within 48 hours they confirmed that it was stage 2 breast cancer. It was very close to the skin surface so I underwent 6 rounds of chemo to shrink it away from the skin, followed by a bilateral mastectomy in January and finally reconstruction in May 2013.

One of my doctors asked me at our first meeting what I was willing to do to get rid of the cancer, after a long scary pause I said whatever it takes. Later I thought about all the things I wanted to do in my life, on the top of my list was complete a sprint triathlon. I decided that as soon as I was able to I would do it, whatever it takes. I had run a 5k but I never thought I would be able to do anything more than that. I stayed as active as I could during chemo and was able to complete a 5k right before my 5th treatment. By the end of February I was able to go to biking class and I started working on getting my strength and endurance up. By April I was training with a beginner triathlon group. It was very hard work, I cried many times upset that my body was not able to work as hard as I wanted it to. In March I was able to do a bike race, in April I was 2nd survivor in Race for the Cure 5k with my best time ever. In May my first open water swim, and in August I had reached my goal and completed 2 sprint triathlons. I realized that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be. I have since run many more 5k races, my first 10k and my first half marathon placing first in the masters division. I am currently training to compete in another half marathon and a duathlon in March.

I decided early on in my treatment that I would not give up, that I would stay positive and I would never quit, and that I would finish what I started whatever it takes. This statement got me through the chemo and the tough days ahead and I still say it to myself anytime I have a hard day. I am so very thankful to my husband Michael who was such a wonderful support for me. He was with me at every doctor appointment; he trained with me and ran by my side during every race cheering me on. I was blessed to have the help of my wonderful friend Jill who among other things sat with me through my first chemo, my daughters Lorelei and Mariana who kept me smiling and helped out whenever I needed anything, my Mom and so many other friends and family that took care of me and kept my spirits up.

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