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It Takes an Army - Bonnie’s Story

Meet Bonnie.  This is her story, in her words…

“With early detection and treatment, more and more women can say that they are survivors.”

I’m one of those people who get annual checkups, including annual mammagrams. However, my expectation with annual mammograms was that I get the mammogram, and two weeks later I get a letter saying all is fine, come back next year. A year and a half ago, I had a different experience.

I had my mammogram and was waiting for the technician to tell me that I could leave. Instead, she said that she wanted a couple more pictures. Then, while I was waiting, another tech asked me if I was ready for my ultrasound. I told her that I was there for a mammogram and not an ultrasound. She told me that the radiologist had ordered the ultraound. Something new for me. Next thing I knew, the radiologist was telling me that I needed a needle biopsy. I was so shocked, that the only question that I thought to ask was “who does that?” Remember, it was supposed to be, mammogram and letter two weeks later …..

That was on a Tuesday. The following Tuesday I had a needle biopsy, and the Tuesday after that I was at Hopkins discussing treatment options with a surgeon for early stage breast cancer. I was still thinking that the pathology reports must have been mixed up. I couldn’t really be the patient in this room. Well, I was. A couple weeks later, I had surgery, followed by chemo and radiation. From mammogram to last radiation treatment - exactly 6 months.

From the day that I discussed treatment options with my surgeon, I was struck by how different my treatment was going to be from the treatment that women received as little as 10 years ago. I had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy. Before that, it was common to remove all of the lymph nodes because the surgeon didn’t know how extensive the cancer might be.

While I was in surgery, nodes were removed and tested in pathology. The nodes came back clean, and it wasn’t necessary to take more. This option was possible because of research that others had participated in earlier. When I had chemo, I received an injection that reduced the risk of infection. Again, this injection was not available to women that long ago. An oncology nurse told me that before that injection, there were a lot more women hospitalized during chemo because of infections.

Before any drug is approved for use, individuals had to agree to take part in research studies. So, it is my intention to participate in any research protocols for which I might be appropriate. I would do it for all of the women who have not yet heard the news that I heard a year and a half ago. My hope is that through the Army of Women I can do my small part to help make their experience with treatment even better than my treatment was. And, if by some chance, some research is done that results in reducing woman’s chance of getting breast cancer in the first place, even better!

Share Your Story

Everyone’s story is welcome. Submit your video (or written story) at: http://www.armyofwomen.org/It_Takes_an_Army_Project

Watch the “It Takes an Army Video” Collection

The full collection of videos will be at:http://www.armyofwomen.org/It_Takes_an_Army_Videos -

Embed code is available on our YouTube Channel at:http://www.youtube.com/loveavonarmyofwomen

Additional videos will be added throughout the month of October and beyond.

A program of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the Army of Women is a unique partnership between researchers at top universities and women who want to help find the cause of breast cancer so we can learn how to prevent it. To date, the Foundation has recruited more than 359,000 women (and some men) into the Army of Women program, with 50,000 of those volunteers engaged in helping 52 breast cancer studies.

After signing up at www.armyofwomen.org, members are then contacted via email blast about new studies seeking volunteers. They can either sign-up for the studies online, or if they do not qualify, they are encouraged to forward the information to a friend or family member. Every woman over 18 is welcome to participate, whether a breast cancer survivor or someone never affected.

There are currently more than 20 breast cancer studies seeking volunteers through the Army of Women. The studies are looking for a variety of women – some seek healthy women who have not had breast cancer; other studies need breastfeeding moms or pregnant women; another study needs women who have the breast cancer gene (BRCA 1 or BRCA 2); a few studies are specifically seeking African American women; while some studies are looking for menopausal and post-menopausal women; and another study is seeking those diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

The full list of open studies seeking volunteers are listed at:www.armyofwomen.org/current.

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