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Renee's Story

About her story

"I will still smile and I will still fight."

After discovering a lump during a self-breast exam, Renee scheduled a doctor's appointment and was later diagnosed with an aggressive form of Stage 4 breast cancer.

"The moment I heard that I had breast cancer, I had a game plan in my head that I was going to fight," said Renee.

Renee's prognosis for treatment was difficult, but she decided early on that she was going to fight. Even after losing the use of her legs, Renee faced breast cancer with a smile.

Watch Renee's story and discover why her inspiring testimony and life touched the hearts of the producers, directors, and staff behind the National Breast Cancer Foundation's Beyond the Shock program.

Related Questions

  • Nicole Adams Profile

    Does a mammogram hurt?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am always concerned when a question is asked about pain levels associated with ANY procedure related to breast cancer and the responses are uniformally rosy or at least, minimal when it comes to reporting pain.
      The real answer is - the pain levels depend on a host of factors and it can vary...

      more

      I am always concerned when a question is asked about pain levels associated with ANY procedure related to breast cancer and the responses are uniformally rosy or at least, minimal when it comes to reporting pain.
      The real answer is - the pain levels depend on a host of factors and it can vary enormously from one women to another. For example, if you have dense breasts and a history of breast pain and sensitivity to having your breasts touched heavily or manipulated, as well as strong hormone related breast pain, then it is feasible that you will find mammograms painful. Further, scientists have recently found that sensitivity to pain is genetically based, so if you are part of the population who have the pain sensitivity genetic make up [you will know who you are as you will have a history of people assuring you X or Y does not hurt much but when you have it, the roof of yor head blasts off with pain - thats when they start calling you a wimp or pathetic or whatever] then your experience more pain than those without the gene.

      I am so sick of the ability to withstand pain being portrayed as a moral virtue when in fact a lot of it is the luck of the draw with genetics.

      I also regularly run into women who actively avoid much needed mammograms because of the pain. I then see scientific studies where resources are poured into answering the question "wh do women avoid having mammograms even when they are free?" One reason they regulary fail to cite is the pain. Yes, pain NOT discomfort.

      I am writing this because I am a breast cancer survivor who not only finds mammograms very painful, I am also one of the 40% of women who developed breast seroma following surgery. A seroma is a fluid filled sac in the breast which in my case although smallish, is also very painful. I have to hold what remains of my right breast if the car goes over a speed hump as breast jiggling is painful.

      I am supposed to have my first post surgery annual mammogram in about 8 weeks.The idea of my scarred breast with a seroma, which already experienced bad pain on mammograms without these features scares the dickens out of me. I had an MRI [which I paid for myself] late last year - zero radiation, zero pain and a far more sensitive test for invasive ie., the most dangerous kind of breast cancer. In my case, due to dense breasts, mammograms are also only around 60% accurate albeit better at detecting non-invasive forms of breast cancer.
      I have now decided I am not going to put up with the pain from mammograms any more. I have therefore written to the centre that will be conducting my annual mammograms for the rest of my life and said I do not consent to having any mammograms done in future without adequate pain relief. I know from experience a local anesthetic injection - which I tolerate well - completely ends all pain. I am also willing to consider trialling a numbing agent like EMLA cream applied an ahour or two before the mammogram and wrapped in saran and/or breathing through one of those pain relief tubes ambulances and paramedics carry with them.
      If anyone reading this has any concerns about the pain involved in having your breasts - with or without surgeyr scars and seromas - squeeed and flattened to one inch thick - then I urge you to contact the mammogaphic service ahead of your appiontment and put it in writing that your consent to the procedure in contingent on being provided with a decent choice of pain relief.
      Do not be held to the standard of the most stoic or tough patient and refuse to be emotionally blackmailed into shutting up and suffering needlessly. The pain relief options I have llisted are cheap, simple and used every minute of every day in all sorts of medical settings, so the side effects are minimal.
      Don't let them get away with hurting you if avoiding being subject to pain is a priority to you. By all means if avoiding or embracing physical pain is acceptable to you - then go ahead without pain relief.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I find them very painful. I had one years ago because a lump was found. I'm small and the area is dense, so all I kept hearing was how little fat I had from the technician to the specialist. I then had to go for an ultrasound anyway because they couldn't really see because of the density. I...

      more

      I find them very painful. I had one years ago because a lump was found. I'm small and the area is dense, so all I kept hearing was how little fat I had from the technician to the specialist. I then had to go for an ultrasound anyway because they couldn't really see because of the density. I ended up with scrapes above and below my breasts and pain for quite a while after.
      I haven't gone again because of the pain, but know that I'm supposed to. If the same thing happens, what's the point? Still the doctor insists on the mammogram. This is not how they would look for testicular cancer and some of us find our breasts just as bad for pain. I think it is barbaric how they have not made this test less painful

      Comment
  • Mary G Profile

    During rads I was using 100% aloe and emu oil (at night). My doc suggested aquphor and silvadene cream after. Now that I am using the new creams I've noticed a red rash on my arm. Anyone else have this come up?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2013
    over 5 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      It could be one or the other of your new regimen. My radiation doc. generally prescribes Silvadene the last 2 weeks of rads. but I'm allergic to the main ingrediant-Sulfa so he felt I'd be fine without it which I was. Talk to your team with your concerns.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Stop using the silvadene.

      Comment
  • Lois Schwerdtfeger Profile

    can very fair skin people get melanoma from radiation treatments.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Ask your radiologist for a clarification. I think this is a different type of radiation than from the sun. Very interesting question! Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      According to my radiation oncologist, people CAN get melanoma in the radiation field. I saw my dermatologist six mos after radiation; she biopsied two lesions that looked like melanoma. Happily the pathology reports did not indicate melanoma, but a type of lesion that could eventually become...

      more

      According to my radiation oncologist, people CAN get melanoma in the radiation field. I saw my dermatologist six mos after radiation; she biopsied two lesions that looked like melanoma. Happily the pathology reports did not indicate melanoma, but a type of lesion that could eventually become melanoma. I will be checked every year from now on.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Will I be able to care for my cats (liter boxes, feeding etc) when I have chemo and radiation treatments?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anonymous:
      My Onc. was dead set against litter box cleaning when I was going through chemo. because of the possibility of picking up some kind of disease. Feeding my kitty's was ok. My hubby took over litter box cleaning. My onc. also did not want me to spend any time around my horses. Being...

      more

      Anonymous:
      My Onc. was dead set against litter box cleaning when I was going through chemo. because of the possibility of picking up some kind of disease. Feeding my kitty's was ok. My hubby took over litter box cleaning. My onc. also did not want me to spend any time around my horses. Being with my horses is like --life-- to me. I took care of all of my animals, including my 7 horses as much as I could. When I couldn't, my wonderful Husband was always there to share the load. Trying to make me stay away from my animals was just not going to happen. I took my chances, and never had any kind of illness. I was fastidious about keeping my hands washed but my animals were and are part of my reason for living. If you get the word you can't clean litter boxes, ask if it would be acceptable if you wore gloves and a mask? I can't imagine you would lesson your chances of picking up any kind of disease. Take care, Sharon

      2 comments
    • Tiffani Warila Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      During treatments, I did everything that was part of my regular routine (including taking care of my cats- litter, food etc, and working daily as a kindergarten para- with the boogie noses and all)! I had a good immune system to begin with, so i just made sure to wash my hands and sanitize. I...

      more

      During treatments, I did everything that was part of my regular routine (including taking care of my cats- litter, food etc, and working daily as a kindergarten para- with the boogie noses and all)! I had a good immune system to begin with, so i just made sure to wash my hands and sanitize. I only got one sore throat during treatments and was put on antibiotics as a precaution. Do what is best for you and you will be fine!

      Comment

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