ABC models telling their personal stories: How to live with the diagnosis breast cancer!
Monika, 42 years old
Mama, Mucki, Metastases
I was the happiest I had been in a while. After a divorce I found new love. We were newlyweds and I was carrying our child. Everything seemed perfect.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I noticed a painful lump. “Looks harmless”, so my gynecologist’s reaction during an ultrasound checkup. I was told to wear a bandage for compression and to give homeopathy a try. Due to the increased postnatal hormone production and a beginning lactogenesis the lump had soon reached the size of a small chicken’s egg. „Just keep massaging it”, was the advice of my midwife.
After a while my gynecologist seemed more and more concerned. She transferred me to a breast health center in order to undergo a detailed examination. By that time my little Mucki was less than 4 weeks old and the thought of leaving our cozy family home seemed anything but appealing. It was my best friend who finally convinced me to go and gain clarity.
“Well defined, looks harmless”, the doctor told me. „Shall we take a sample?” – My Mucki looked very peaceful in her stroller, so I agreed. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t worried. I simply kept surfing my wave of happiness.
Then on January 13, 2014 the storm was unleashed and swept me and my family of our feet. I received a call from the breast center: “Please come see us today to talk about the results, and ask someone to come along.”
„Bring someone along”. One doesn’t just recommend that – only if really serious. Terrified as I was, I called both, my oldest daughter and my husband. I met them at the entrance of the clinic. Suddenly my phone rang: “Hello Mrs. Grüner, we have to postpone the appointment and wait for a bone scintigraphy that will take place tomorrow.” Bone scan! I’m an expert. I know what that means. They are looking for metastases. I have cancer.
My husband and I just sat there, listening to the doctor, who told us that I have a very aggressive triple-negative tumor. It was required to start chemotherapy immediately, then mastectomy and radiotherapy.
For about a week we went through hell. My husband feared to be a single dad, my older children were scared to lose their mom. However, the support of our friends and family was out of this world, as we never kept the diagnosis a secret.
In terms of therapy things happened really fast. One after the other: Bone scan, check for metastases in the inner organs and lymph nodes, application of a port for chemotherapy since normal veins don’t withstand the continuous injection of poison.
Just about two weeks after, I received my first chemotherapy. I had been looking forward to it. A few days later down the road, I already noticed a first shrinking of the egg sized lump. It worked; I could feel it.
Therefore, I kept going. I went over a period of six months. I lost my hair and dealt with a few other inconveniences. All in all, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. At the end of chemotherapy, the tumor was no longer visible on the MRI. Surgery was performed nonetheless, but I could keep large parts of my natural breast. The cell tissue analysis post-surgery demonstrated a complete remission. Not a single cancer cell to be found. I was in a state of complete happiness. The radiologist himself was so relieved, he even gave me a hug. Subsequent to the first part of the therapy, the following 30 radiation sessions were a walk in the park. Then 13 months later, I got to go to the Baltic Sea for a rehabilitation treatment at the Rexrodt-von-Fircks-Stiftung at, taking along my oldest son.
A little more than a year after the diagnosis, I had almost fully recovered. It was a difficult journey to walk, but it wasn’t the most difficult journey I had walked in life. And I was never unhappy. Throughout it all, I had my family by my side, and was always convinced that everything was going to be fine.
Inge, 48 years old, married and mother to two sons
In January 2016 I noticed a small, hard lump in my left breast while showering.
I went to see my physician, who performed a sonography and recommended a biopsy. I was shocked by the result: Breast cancer! All this, even though, I underwent both, mammography and breast sonography, without any significant findings three months prior to that day.
My world, our world, was turned upside down. I couldn’t believe this was happening, and was full of fear and despair. However, I had to accept it. I started immediately to do my research and did so thoroughly. It helped me to feel more in control and a little less helpless. In February 2016, I had surgery. Due to the fact that my mom had breast cancer 25 years earlier, I went for maximum security and had the breast removed fully. Consequently, there was no need for me to undergo radiation therapy. Chemotherapy wasn’t necessary in my case either. Only the daily intake of Tamoxifen was required, and I myself decided to do mistletoe therapy additionally.
I was very open about my disease, did neither hide nor isolate myself. Now, I feel stronger than ever. My entire environment, including my bosses and colleagues, knew about my diagnosis and showed full support. My family’s compassion, support and love were, and still are, the tonic giving me strength. I am filled with gratitude.
Life has given me a second chance, and I intend to use it. Regular exercise, autogenic training and simply the joy of living are what keeps me fit. Zumba is one of my favorites, it is a great workout and it puts me in a good mood. The cooperation with ABC Breast Care has given me confidence and resulted in new, interesting connections.
My advice for anyone in a similar situation: Be or become brave and full of hope! Dare to be a feminine, with or without your breasts. Life invites us to be part of it!
All the best,
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I felt really fit. Never in the world would I have expected to be sick. I spent the majority of my time high up in the mountains with my husband or riding my bike.
After one of my regular check-ups I was called back and told, that the results of both mammography and sonography were unclear. A biopsy via rapid incision procedure in the clinic was recommended.
The diagnose: “Breast carcinoma”! It was August 18, 1997 – I will never forget that day.
Of course, I was familiar with the expression “to hit rock bottom”, but it was only then that I fully understood its meaning. “I have cancer”, was the only thing I could think of. The word itself was scary enough, and it was accompanied by the uncertainty as to “how are we going to continue with our lives?”.
My husband and son supported me in the best way possible. It didn’t take long until I regained composure. My doctors agreed on a breast-preserving operation, which included the removal of some of my lymph nodes. The surgery went well. I was lucky: the lymph nodes weren’t affected. However, the waiting time for the result of the analysis caused a lot of fear.
The result presented by my doctor: A lobular carcinoma in situ of the extended type.
I didn’t even know what this diagnosis meant. The explanation followed shortly after, my entire breast had to be removed.
What a shock! The night before surgery I looked at myself in the mirror thinking “This is the last time I will ever look like this…” It was time to say Goodbye. My breasts were small, I always wanted them to be bigger. Now, the only thing I wanted was to keep them.
In the following months I gained a lot of strength from being in nature. My husband always had my back and the fear of the cancer slowly faded.
Now, I am doing well and I am very grateful for it. I live a more conscious life. I am more content, little things make me happy and my perspective has shifted. Because I learned an important lesson: things can change in an instant.
I want to encourage all women in a similar situation. The beginning is truly hard, but it is worth to fight and to pursue the joy of living. On another note, there is such a great variety of breast prosthesis and bras with a comfortable fit – there really is something for any taste and occasion. Looking at myself in the mirror today, I always think “This looks amazing – no one is going to notice any difference and I feel good!
For me life is worth living – again.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years earlier than me. The motto getting her through it all: “When you think you can’t go on; a small light will arise to guide you through the storm”.
When I was diagnosed with cancer it was a shock for me and my whole family. I thought: “Now it got me too”. It was somewhat of a relief to know my children were grown up. I knew they would be ok without me.
I handled therapy well, even though, the procedures were physically extremely straining back in 1992. I kept my eyes on the path and never spent a single moment thinking about giving up. I firmly believed that I was going to get through this. And I was right.
It was very important for me to slow things down, find inner peace and to withdraw myself from anything else. This served as the best strategy to withstand both of my therapies in 1996 and 2002 to never lose hope and positivity. It was, and still is, very comforting being surrounded by a family that always has my back.
The fact that I secluded myself so much, was at times difficult to understand by the people around me. To me, it had high significance.
It has been 10 years since I was last diagnosed with cancer, making me optimistic about my future.
(How many people are actually able to say the same? How much suffering there is on our planet! Cancer isn’t even the worst that can happen.)
I try to relax, to enjoy every single day, and to find joy in the little things. That is what makes keeps me strong. Nonetheless, I cannot avoid paying attention to my body and fearing another relapse when days are tough.
The road to heaven is a long and rocky one. Every single one of us tries to master finding peace and happiness in their very own individual way. Especially, when facing a rough stretch.
To begin with: Also this year, I am going to fly to Florida to enjoy another sunny November there!
About a year ago I didn’t think that any of this was possible. At the end of October my husband and I flew to Florida, just like we had been doing every year, for the past ten years. We booked our apartment right by the Gulf of Mexico, just like we always did. After three beautiful days, while showering, I noticed the skin on my right breast changing. Somehow, I sensed right away that this meant something bad. I underwent a full check up in the US, and the diagnosis was almost certain – breast cancer.
Encouraged by phone conversations with my doctors in Germany, as well as the good advice from doctors in the US, I continued my vacation. I had another three amazing weeks in Florida. For the first time in my life, I went on a fishing boat together with my husband and son. I remember thinking: “It might be the last time I get to experience something like this.” I even caught a big fish!
Back home in Germany I had a biopsy. The result was as expected, and the surgery was scheduled only five days later. I was lucky there were no metastases. Still, it was necessary to undergo two more medical procedures.
December 4, 2012 dated my last surgery. By mid-January I had already started working again. All I wanted was my life back!
Looking back, undergoing surgery was the best decision I could have made. My family, colleagues and friends were simply amazing, and supported me throughout it all – starting from radiation therapy to full recovery.
Now, I feel safe to say that my life isn’t exactly how it used to be, yet, some aspects got even better!
Thanks to the lovely ladies working for ABC Breast Care, as well as the well-developed prostheses and specialty bras, people can’t even tell that I had a mastectomy. As a result, to the disease, I started to look after myself and to care less about everything else. I exercise and I eat healthy. I even learned to say no to doing certain things – after all, tomorrow is a new day!