We Race Because…
But, when you participate and fundraise for the Race, we fight these statistics together. In 1980, the 5-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (cancer confined to the breast) was about 74 percent. Today, that number is 99 percent! Komen has played a critical role in every major advance in the fight against breast cancer - transforming how the world talks about and treats this disease and helping to turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors. This progress was made with your continued support and together we can reach our vision of a world without breast cancer.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, 2007 after a clean mammogram just a month earlier. I found a lump under my arm right before Mother’s Day that year and my heart sank. I knew something was wrong. A few weeks later after multiple tests trying to find the source of the cancer, I heard the shocking news that I had metastatic breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. I couldn’t breathe or eat for a couple of weeks until one day my doctor said, “Patti… now I know you have a cancer I can cure!” I could breathe again and I prepared myself for the fight of my life. I had 6 months of chemo followed by a mastectomy and reconstruction. This took a couple of years to complete.
I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® for the very first time when I was 3 months into chemo. I could not stop crying when I saw the sea of pink. My heart was broken when I saw how many lives were touched by this disease. After being part of this race, it became my passion to help others who were experiencing the dramatic life changing effects from breast cancer that I have faced. I began thinking of how I could help people and improve awareness of breast cancer. I started a Susan G. Komen® campaign at my office in 2007 as a grass roots effort. I did it on my own with a couple of co-workers and we raised approximately $3000. Nine years later, with the support of my office, I am still running my Susan G. Komen® Campaign. To date the campaign has raised over $100,000.
My journey continues…. In September 2015 my oncologist suggested that I go get a gene mutations test again because new breast cancer gene mutations have been discovered since I had the test in 2007. I am so glad she urged me to do this because I tested positive for one of the newly discovered breast cancer genes. I immediately contacted my doctors and had another mastectomy on my right side in November, 2016. I am currently scheduled for more reconstruction surgery in May, 2016. This has been an awesome journey and if I could go back and change the fact that I had breast cancer, I wouldn’t. I love my life and I love the path that has been chosen for me. I have made a promise to myself, my daughters, my family and friends, that will continue to help make a difference and find the cures!
I am a survivor and fighter. After a double mastectomy, reconstruction & chemo I am proud to say I am a survivor as of 3/2015. I lost my hair, eyebrows & confidence but was strong in faith & positivity. I shared my journey on Social Media & had no idea the impact I would have on women. I was known as the "HAPPY PINK SPARKLY GIRL." I continue to mentor other women going through the journey I would not wish upon anyone. In October 2015. I was #6 in fund raising for the Susan G. Komen Dallas Race for the Cure®. I work for an OB/GYN in the metroplex & help women daily through what I experienced. I was blessed with a HUGE support group of family & friends.
In October of 2014 I went in for my annual pap smear. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I hadn’t had a mammogram in two years, so my doctor put in the order. A few weeks letter I felt a lump at the top of my right breast. I knew it was cancer. I called to get my mammogram right away, and mentioned a lump. I had to go back to my gynecologist for her to evaluate and resend the referral. My doctor assured me it was nothing.
That afternoon I went and had the 3D mammogram. The tech told me right then that I had cancer. It was a rather casual statement. I was told to come back for a biopsy. The biopsy confirmed what we already basically knew. I received a phone call that was quite impersonal. I don’t remember the rest of our conversation. I took some notes though thank goodness! I was referred to several breast surgeons.
I met with an Oncologist on December 23. I had no idea what was going on. I was told I need to decide right away how I wanted to treat it. I didn’t hesitate. A bilateral mastectomy was the only solution I could see. I was 45. I didn’t want uneven breasts. I really cared about how I’d look in the end. I was told there was a plastic surgeon that could then meet me. I had 30 minutes to get there. My family and I flew over to the office. I was told my options for reconstruction and implants. I was told I was a good candidate for the diep flap reconstruction. I was excited about the tummy tuck and liposuction aspect of it.
First surgery was on January 14, 2015. I was terrified. I cried the entire time until they put me under. It is such a personal loss to have your breasts removed. They put in those nasty expanders until my reconstruction. It was painful but I motored through. Thank goodness for the decision to go with the bilateral mastectomy. They found a 3.3mm infiltrating ductal carcinoma in my left breast. I can’t imagine having had to go through this again. I was on medical leave for five weeks. I am so lucky to work for a company that values women’s health, and provides excellent benefits.
My diagnosis for my right breast was 26mm Grade 2 infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It was estrogen positive, progesterone positive and Hur 2 negative. I was told that was good and that there was a 98% cure rate. I still had no idea what they were talking about. Everything happens so fast, and you just have to trust.
I tried a process where a cap is placed on your head at -30 degrees. It felt like a painful brain freeze, but so worth it! I lost only 5% of my hair.
I had my reconstruction July 15, 2015. I was told it would be horribly painful. It was, but I was prepared. I was on medical leave for six weeks this time. I should’ve stayed out longer. I fully regret not letting myself heal, and thinking that my obligation to work was more important.
I wish I had spent more time worrying about me, taking care of me, and talking about me. I didn’t want anyone to worry, so I just smiled and said I was fine. I wasn’t. I’m not. It turns out that they knew that too.
In October I posted to my Facebook about how I just didn’t feel the same. I looked the same. I didn’t lose my hair so no one thought I was sick. Sometimes I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I was SICK! I was going through CHEMO! I just had SURGERY! A friend replied to my post that she had had breast cancer seven years ago. She recommended that I join Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She said it was really motivating and meaningful, and helped her not feel quite so alone. I joined right away. There were four of us. I sent out Facebook alerts from my race webpage that I was fundraising. Once the first person donated, it just kept pouring in.
I think about cancer every day when I look in the mirror and see the scars or when I feel the pain in my abdomen. I am working with a behavioral health oncology clinical psychologist/psycho-oncologist. I do have post-traumatic stress. I kept so much bottled up. Working with the Komen Dallas Race for the Cure® is another way I am working towards healing. Some days are better than others. I’m learning to breath and heal not only my body, but my mind and my soul.
Thank you for letting me share my story.
My name is Joyce Flatt, and I am a breast cancer survivor! In February of 2015, after an MRI at Baylor in Irving, I got the call, telling me I had breast cancer. Within hours, a Nurse Navigator named Kathleen Loinette contacted me. She made sure I understood my options and the procedures to come. She even went with me to several appointments and took notes, so I wouldn’t miss any details. From Surgery (Dr. Ed Clifford) to Oncology (Dr. Neveena Allada) to Radiology (Dr. Granger Scruggs), I received excellent care! They treated me like family- not just another patient.
By continuing to work, I was able to keep my mind and body active making each procedure easier. Today, I am cancer free. I continue to love life and know every day is a gift from God. Thanks to Baylor in Irving and the support of my friends, family, work (Trinity Industries) and organizations like Survivor Girl, I am proof that the Big “C” is NOT a death penalty! This experience was just a stepping stone in the river of life.