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Penny's Story

About her story

"I knew I had to take this horrible, bad thing and turn it in to something positive."

In March 2010, Penny was diagnosed with Stage IIB Triple-negative breast cancer.

"There's something about when you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, it's like being elected to a club that you never wanted to be a part of," says Penny. "But, when you're there, you're really glad there's other people with you."

A busy salon owner, Penny realized that her diagnosis and treatment would completely change her lifestyle. But, through breast cancer, she learned that it was her family and support that meant most to her.

Watch Penny's story and learn how a rare form of breast cancer changed her life and helped her realize that all things work out for good in the end.

Related Questions

  • anonymous Profile

    Here's my question...I just turned 33, found out last night that I will have a bilateral and chemo can anyone help me out on what to expect as far as the chemo and reconstruction or any other helpful information?

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anonymous, I know we are all so sorry to hear at such a young age, you have breast cancer. Every woman's breast cancer is different on a cellular level. There are many factors and findings that go into the decision how your treatment will go. It depends on what type of breast cancer you have,...

      more

      Anonymous, I know we are all so sorry to hear at such a young age, you have breast cancer. Every woman's breast cancer is different on a cellular level. There are many factors and findings that go into the decision how your treatment will go. It depends on what type of breast cancer you have, the stage, the grade, and your age. You are in limbo right now because you are still being tested. Once your team have your treatment schedule set, your life will settle down. I can tell you, where you are right now is lousy. We really don't know what your treatment will be. As far as chemotherapy, everybody handles it differently. Some people it is tough, other people, like myself, it was relatively easy. They have very good druges to keep you from getting nauseated. You WILL lose your hair. That is a --for sure--. It starts to drop out at about 2 weeks after your first treatment. I did not have reconstruction but usually if you have a mastectomy and you are going to have reconstruction, they place tissue expanders to make a pocket for implants. There are other types of reconstruction and that will be discussed with you depending on your specific circumstance.
      A suggestion for you while you are going through this diagnosis phase, take a spouse, relative and good friend to take notes and listen to what is being said. I did not remember a third of what was said. Thankfully, my husband and best friend came along to help me through this tough time. You have got to be your own best advocate. You have got to speak up, ask questions, and make sure you are getting the correct medication. Every woman's treatment will be different because it is not individualized for each woman. It is a long journey, but you will come out the other side a much stronger woman. Breast cancer treatment ain't for wimps! Hang in there.... you WILL make it!
      Take care, Sharon

      2 comments
    • sandra hayley Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and had a mastectomy and chemo in 2006, had breast cancer again in 2011, had surgery and radiation. Think positive! You can beat this! I also found out I have the brca2 gene(breast cancer gene) I am now 41 and trying to stay positive and eat healthy and...

      more

      I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and had a mastectomy and chemo in 2006, had breast cancer again in 2011, had surgery and radiation. Think positive! You can beat this! I also found out I have the brca2 gene(breast cancer gene) I am now 41 and trying to stay positive and eat healthy and exercise regularly.

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Just finished ac 4x getting ready to start Taxol next week! I'm wondering what side effects this has? Dr said I might lose my fingernails? Did anybody have this happen? I do have little black spots on my nails already ;(

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 3B Patient
    over 7 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi, Evelyn is right. Every woman experiences her chemo differently. Taxol was easier on me than A/C. My nails didn't turn black but I did have some other changes in my nails. My fingernails flattened out. It wasn't noticeable to anyone but me. :). I just kept them cut short. My toe nails became...

      more

      Hi, Evelyn is right. Every woman experiences her chemo differently. Taxol was easier on me than A/C. My nails didn't turn black but I did have some other changes in my nails. My fingernails flattened out. It wasn't noticeable to anyone but me. :). I just kept them cut short. My toe nails became brittle but I didn't lose them. On two of my taxol treatments I ran a low grade fever for a few hours. Any time you run fever be sure to let your Onc know. I was fine. I had some body aches but not severe. I didn't experience the mild nausea I had with A/C. I still felt the fatigue of course. But overall Taxol was much easier on me. I hope you have few side effects! Just think....you're halfway finished with chemo!!! Best wishes!

      4 comments
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Hi there. Congrats on finishing your AC. I had the Taxol (Taxotere) along with the AC, so I didn't do it in stages. There are a lot of side effects associated with Taxol, but not everyone has them. Yes, your nails can turn black. My fingernails were fine, but the beds of my toenails turned...

      more

      Hi there. Congrats on finishing your AC. I had the Taxol (Taxotere) along with the AC, so I didn't do it in stages. There are a lot of side effects associated with Taxol, but not everyone has them. Yes, your nails can turn black. My fingernails were fine, but the beds of my toenails turned black. I have yet to see if they'll fall out.

      I happen to be one of those who had more side effects to the Taxotere than to the other two drugs. But my experience is not the norm. Many women don't react at all. It was clear after my first treatment that I was slightly allergic to Taxotere, and that allergy continued in various ways throughout my treatment. As long as you keep your doctors and nurses up to speed on how you're reacting to it, they'll know what to do for you.

      Best of luck!

      3 comments
  • Tawonna Anthony Profile

    What if you get pregnant while undergoing chemotherapy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 3A Patient
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Jessica Fisher Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3A Patient

      It's very harmful to a fetus I was told that abortion would be the best option do I am havin my tubes tied

      Comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Tawonna. This is what I found on the American Cancer Society:
      "Chemo usually is not given during the first 3 months of pregnancy (the first trimester). This is because most of the fetus’s internal organs develop during this time. The risk of miscarriage (losing the baby) is also the greatest...

      more

      Hi Tawonna. This is what I found on the American Cancer Society:
      "Chemo usually is not given during the first 3 months of pregnancy (the first trimester). This is because most of the fetus’s internal organs develop during this time. The risk of miscarriage (losing the baby) is also the greatest during the first trimester. The safety of chemo during this time has not been studied because of concerns about damage to the fetus.

      It was once thought that all chemo drugs would harm the fetus. But studies have shown that certain chemo drugs used during the second and third trimesters (the fourth through ninth months of pregnancy) do not raise the risk of birth defects, stillbirths, or health problems shortly after birth. But researchers still do not know whether these children will have any long-term effects.

      When a pregnant woman with early breast cancer needs adjuvant chemo after surgery, it’s usually delayed until at least the second trimester. If a woman is already in her third trimester when the cancer is found, the chemo may be delayed until after birth. The birth may be induced (brought on) a few weeks early in these cases. Depending on the extent of the cancer, these same treatment plans may also be used for women whose disease is more advanced.

      Chemo should not be given 3 to 4 weeks before delivery. This is because one side effect of chemo is that it lowers the mother’s blood counts. This could cause bleeding and increase the chances of infection during birth. Holding off on chemo for the last few weeks before delivery allows the mother’s blood counts to return to normal levels before childbirth."

      I have read about several women who have delivered healthy babies after having chemo. Best wishes to you. :)

      Comment
  • Rita Siomos Profile

    I had my port put in 6 days ago and am still feeling some tightness in my chest. Will this discomfort go away?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      My port has been fine and unnoticeable for the most part. If the doctors are recommending you get one it may be because your treatment will be long...? Mine was every 2 weeks for 8 rounds and I will have herceptin until Jan 2013. If your treatment will be aggressive like mine then do the port...

      more

      My port has been fine and unnoticeable for the most part. If the doctors are recommending you get one it may be because your treatment will be long...? Mine was every 2 weeks for 8 rounds and I will have herceptin until Jan 2013. If your treatment will be aggressive like mine then do the port because your veins will not handle it well. I know people who have not had one but their course of treatment didn't warrant it. Don't worry about the tops!

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      It is always going to be a piece of plumbing in your chest for the duration of your chemo. Thank goodness for my port...it made the chemo process much, much, easier. My sense is the feeling you are having right now, should get better. As I was told, it is quite a procedure to put the thing...

      more

      It is always going to be a piece of plumbing in your chest for the duration of your chemo. Thank goodness for my port...it made the chemo process much, much, easier. My sense is the feeling you are having right now, should get better. As I was told, it is quite a procedure to put the thing in. I was refered to another surgeon as my breast surgeon didn't do this procedure. It is probably to be expected it would take a while to get over the surgery and what they have to do. My port just felt weird, but I don't know how to describe it. I would mention it to your oncologist and/or the infusion nurses if it doesn't change.
      Of all the --things-- I had, from the mastectomy, to the chemo, I think the port was the thing that bugged me the most. After I got it out, the scar itched and was just plain unattractive. My mastectomy scar is small, flat, quite lovely compared to where the port was. It looks somewhat like a divit out of the fairway of a golf course!!!! Ugly scar on top of it. It is always good for --war stories-- I don't mean to make light of your present feelings at all. It WILL get better and it is a good thing to have for ease of giving you your treatments. Take care and hang in there Rita! Sharon

      1 comment
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