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Survivor: Cheryl P.

By: New Balance
Posted on October 30, 2014

My daughter saved my life. I was breastfeeding and felt a lump. I called my doctor who originally thought that it might be a clogged milk duct. I was told to try warm compresses and if it did not go away within a few days to call back. In fact, it did not go away but became increasingly more painful. When I called back, I was set up for a mammogram. At age 35 and breastfeeding, the technician at the hospital did not want to perform the test. After much discussion, the technician agreed to do the test. I had a seat and talked to the ladies in the waiting room. I was pretty nervous and they assured me that I would be getting a letter to return in a year. However, in my case I did not receive a letter, I was told that something did look suspicious and I needed an ultrasound..."Today." After my doctor was called and he sent an prescription for the ultrasound, I was taken back for the ultrasound. Again, I was sent to the waiting room to talk to ladies. This time there was a different group because the others had been sent home. A nice older lady assured me that this has happened to her before and that I would be receiving a letter to return next year. Unfortunately for me that did not happen. I had another conversation with the technician and then the Radiologist who showed me a picture of the suspicious mass. I was told that I needed a biopsy..."Today." I then called my family and my doctor was called to get the okay to proceed. I was walked into the hospital to pre-op and prepared for the biopsy. When I came out my family was gathered. I was told that the results would be available on Mon. This was November 7, 2003. On Monday November 10, 2003 my life would change forever. The news I received was that I had an aggressive form of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and I needed to act quickly. I was seen by the Oncologist and Surgeon the next day at a cancer center and a plan was in place to begin chemotherapy as soon as the following week. I first needed a host of tests and classes. Everyday that week, I made a trip to the hospital to get prepared to start chemotherapy. On one day, family members and a friend accompanied me to chemo class. I needed someone to ask questions because at this point I was in overload with information. I began chemotherapy the following Tuesday and it continued for 6 months. This was followed by a double mastectomy, radiation therapy and then plastic surgery. I finished my treatment in August of 2004 and returned to work in September. In 2012, I decided to share my story with Ford Warriors in Pink and was chosen as a "Model of Courage" for 2012 and 2013. In that role, I had the opportunity to share my story to countless others. I spoke on "The Talk" and was featured in multiple magazines in advertisements. My message centered around being persistent when you know that something does not feel right. You must continue to pursue the source of the pain until you get someone to listen. If I had just listened to the first answer that my pain was a clogged milk duct, I know that I would not be here today.

How are you involved in the fight throughout the year?

I am involved in the fight throughout the year by continuing to tell my story and to talk to anyone who has questions about their diagnosis. People now know that I am a survivor and feel comfortable talking to me. I also volunteer for an organization  that provides short-term financial assistance to women or men in active breast cancer treatment. I help process the applications. Also, in October I will be performing in their now annual event called "Dancing with the Survivors". This has allowed me to raise money to help support the newest survivors and awareness to the breast cancer fight.