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From Seattle, a breast cancer survivor wrote: "Ten years ago, at the age of 47, I learned I had breast cancer, detected through my first-ever mammogram and confirmed by a biopsy. Saying I was stunned by the news doesn't begin to describe my feelings since I have always been healthy and never worried about being struck by a life-threatening disease. What followed that phone call from the doctor were first a few tears and a prayer then a series of meetings with surgeons - the one who did the biopsy and then another for a second opinion - then with an oncologist and two plastic surgeons to learn about re-constructive surgery if I decided on a mastectomy. My husband came with me and took notes, so that we could remember later what was said, and asked questions. We had to learn a whole new vocabulary as well as consider options regarding treatment. Because the cancer was intraductal (which I learned meant in the ducts inside the breast not, as I first imagined when I heard it, introductory) both surgeons recommended a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy since it would be difficult to know exactly where the margins of cancer ended. Both said they would predict close to 100% chance of survival following a mastectomy, odds that far outweighed the devastating prospect of losing a breast. I talked to everyone I knew who had had a mastectomy and was heartened and encouraged by their attitudes - a definite "I can deal with this and go on with my life. It doesn't change who I am." I had a mastectomy, which for me was practically painless, and a year later had reconstructive surgery. I was very fortunate that there was nothing found in my lymph nodes and the consensus was that I didn't need radiation or chemotherapy. In fact I was very fortunate in so many ways: I went in for a mammogram as soon as I got a postcard telling me it was time to start having them, based on my risk factors; I had total support from my husband in whatever treatment I needed; I got good advice and excellent treatment from Group Health and have survived ten years. On the day that my husband and I first met with a surgeon who recommended a mastectomy I came home afterwards and numbly turned on the T.V. There on the screen were Fred Astair and Ginger Rodgers and he was singing "They Can't Take That Away From Me." I knew it was meant for me; "That" didn't refer to my breast but my self, my sense of who I am. Nothing can take that away from me." .

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Annie Yonker.
Mother of Luke & Drake.
Diagnosed March 21, 1994,
lost March 15, 1998.
Aged 39.

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