Fighting Against Breast Cancer
“You have breast cancer.” These four words can change your life forever. Debbie Fassino and Jenny Maynard have been there, and as National Breast Cancer Month approaches, they are here to share that there is strength, hope, and healing to be found after a diagnosis.
“It was February of 2002, during a self-check, that I first felt a lump in my left breast. However, I wouldn’t learn I had cancer for some time. In the following eight months, I had two mammograms and two biopsies – and each one came back negative. I was told not to worry. And yet, there was a voice inside my head that kept saying, ‘something is not right.’ So at my request, a lumpectomy was scheduled to check the surrounding tissue. This time, the results were different: I was told I had infiltrating ductal cancer.
“When I came home, I was paralyzed with fear and stayed alone in my bedroom until my husband came home from work. When I told him I had breast cancer, he and I just held each other. We decided to tell our two children that night. I felt I was the one who needed to speak, to let the kids hear it from me. As the words fell from my mouth, so did their faces. My son was speechless, and my daughter quickly asked, ‘Mom are you going to die?’ I didn’t know how to respond. I said, ‘I’m going to fight, we’re all going to fight this together as a family.’
“The next step was to see my surgeon to discuss my treatment options. Due to the nature of my diagnosis, I chose a double mastectomy. I remember crying as I left the office with my surgery schedule and post-surgery treatment options. That’s when I told my husband: ‘I want to be able to help the next woman going through this.’
“For the last 14 years, I have been involved with Susan G. Komen, and other breast cancer supporting organizations, including many different support groups and health and wellness programs. I feel being involved not only helps others, but myself as well. I urge everyone to know what is normal for your body. Be insistent about anything that is not normal and listen to that little small voice that we all have inside of us. It saved my life.”
“I am 41 years old, a mother of two beautiful children, and a wife of 21 years to an amazing husband. I have spent almost half of my life as an educator, wife, and student. Two years ago, my life was chugging right along when everything came to a screeching halt. That was the winter I felt a small lump in my left breast.
“I started researching different types of breast cancer, and soon I was praying I wouldn’t hear the words ‘triple negative’ – the fast-growing and more aggressive form. In February, I was given the news that completely rocked our world: I had breast cancer, stage II triple negative, invasive ductal carcinoma. My mind filled with questions. Would I be a survivor? What would these treatments do to my body? Would they kill the cancer?
“One month later, on my 40th birthday, I began the long journey to battle my breast cancer. I fought through three surgeries, 16 chemotherapy treatments, and 33 radiation treatments. Throughout this time, I asked myself many times, ‘What am I scared of?’ There was a long list of answers: Leaving my children too early and missing out on their lives, leaving my husband a widow, death, the side effects of treatment… Most of all, I was scared to death of the unknown. I had no idea what was going to happen, and I knew I had no control over the outcome.
“Now, as I look back, I see the entire picture. I made it. I did it. I’m not completely off the mountain, but I’m on the other side – and I’m proud of myself for pushing through. I still battle a tremendous amount of anguish and worry, but I AM a survivor! I want to share my story to help others who have fallen victim to this dreadful disease. I want them to look at me and see a story of hope and a future.”
Join Us in the FIGHT against Breast Cancer! Sunday, October 9, 2016 | UTC McKenzie Arena