Hi! I'm Michele, R.N., B.S.N.
I am a 44 year old 7 year breast cancer survivor. My family includes a wonderfully supportive husband (Bob) and
2 terrific kids (Lauren, 17yo and Aaron, 11yo). We live in southeast Michigan with our 5 indoor cats. My parents pre-deceased me (Mom unexpectedly in June 1997, just 20 days
before my diagnosis; Dad in April 1999).
I don't claim to have all
of the answers that you seek. I cannot speak for every breast cancer survivor. My goal here is to help demystify the breast
cancer experience. Many of us have had to work through all of this by trial and error. Some of us have had mentors to
help us through. A number of survivors have chosen to assist our "sisters" and their families and friends in making
While none of us would have
chosen a membership in this breast cancer club, we are nonetheless all part of a sisterhood. And I have discovered that
no matter how alone I felt, there were LOTS more women out there who had gone through much the same thing. Our feelings are
Although our diagnosis, stage
and treatment plans may differ, we all share the same basic feelings: fear of the known, fear of the unknown, fear of
recurrence, fear of incapacitation and fear of dying. These feelings are completely normal and there are many places
you can turn to for support.
My initial hope was to build
a site with reader contributions that would address a wide need, such as some of the issues facing young (under 40) breast
cancer survivors. But this site took on a mind of its own :)
Not knowing what to expect
can be very frightening. Just the words "breast cancer" can strike fear in the hearts of even the strongest people.
I hope to be able to help lessen the fear. And to show that as one of the many women who has taken this journey:
There IS life during and after breast cancer!
Being told you have breast cancer is
a shock, even if you've suspected it. You need time to adjust to the idea, to decide, with full information, perhaps including
a second opinion, what you want to do. I don't think you can really make that decision before you know if you've got cancer.
The hypothetical is very different from the real: what you think you'd decide if you have cancer may be very different from
what you will decide when you have cancer.
For many women, the thought of having
cancer is so appalling that often their first thought is "I don't want to deal with this -- just get it out of me and let
me go on with my life." But with a day or two to reflect on this new reality, your panic may subside and you may decide on
a less drastic treatment than your original horror dictated. Whatever treatment you decide on, you'll have to live with it
for the rest of your life -- and that life won't be shortened by giving yourself a little time to think it over.
Obviously, if you've got cancer you want
it taken care of as soon as possible and don't want to wait several months before beginning treatment. But the week or so
you give yourself to decide won't kill you, and it will help you to make the clearest decision possible.
Wishing you hope and gentle
hugs as you roam this site and undertake your journey,
Michele (Mikki630 and nurse_mikki,
to my online friends)
Allow me to walk silently with you, my friend. We have much work to do before the day is done. You are special.
You are strong. You are loved. And together, we will fight this beast and we will WIN
(warrior and slayer of the beast, thusfar)
I dedicate this site to honor all of the courageous women who have looked this beast in the eye. We may be battle
scarred and tired, but we will not give up without a fight!
What you can expect to
find on this site:
Information, some GREAT links,
pictures, personal stories (my own and those of others as they're sent to me), insight, helpful hints for the getting through
things, and HUMOR.
Information contained in this site is NOT intended to replace your medical
care. Please consult your healthcare team with any questions or problems you may have. This site will NOT
give medical advice. Any information here is the opinion of the submitter. Sources will be cited for all medical information
so that you may perform further research.
Lymphedema: Includes my own personal experience with symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and daily self-care as well as 4 extremely
helpful articles from the National Lymphedema Network (NLN). They include: Lymphedema, a Brief Overview; Lymphedema
Awareness Before, During and After Breast Cancer Surgery; Eighteen Steps to Prevention; In Defense of the 18 Steps to Prevention.
See also the LINKS page for some great links (with diagrams) to help
you understand the lymphatic system.
Our Experience: Includes reader snippets & stories (the good, the bad, the ugly & the funny). Lots of humorous & inspirational
Photos--my hair loss/regrowth timeline: It really DOES grow back!
Reconstruction photos: Currently has reconstruction photos of a lat flap reconstruction (7 days post-op and 8 mos post-op). Awaiting mastectomy
scar photos. MAY BE TOO GRAPHIC FOR SOME!
LINKS: Some excellent links on almost everything you want/need to know about breast cancer. Includes medical sites,
personal homepages, info on dealing with kids & body image issues, reconstruction, online shopping for wigs & supplies,
a new link for Pregant Women With Cancer. Also includes
links to generally useful websites and humorous websites.
My Journal: Selected entries dealing with grief over the death of my mom & some thoughts I jotted down as I went through
cancer treatment. You can expect to shed some tears here. I color coded the entries so as to not "ambush" anyone. Black=grief over mom,
related entries, blue=cute or heartwarming
KIDS: Some info on dealing with your children's fears and feelings as you go through treatment. See also myLINKS page.
Chemotherapy and Ports: some helpful information about venous access devices, most commonly known as "ports."
Other breast conditions: Info
on breast cysts, calcifications, nipple discharge, fibrocystic breast conditions, and fibroadenomas.