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Charlotte’s Story: Three Strikes & I’m Not Out!  

Charlotte Tallas underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2003 and 2010. In 2017, Charlotte began to experience leg pain and learned the cancer had metastasized (spread). This is her story in her own words.  

It was 2003 and I just finished showering and to my surprise I noticed what I thought was a cute dimple. I knew it didn’t belong. It was a lump about the size of a pea. I didn’t waste any time to get a mammogram. The findings were not unexpected from what I have read. There is no breast cancer on either side of my family.  

With my head full of knowledge, I went in and had a lumpectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. All was fine. I continued to go every year for my mammograms. And just as I was coming to being considered in remission, the cancer came back in 2010. 

I had to be insistent to have an ultrasound done because of the placement of the new lump – it was right under the scar from the lumpectomy. I kept saying, “I know my body.” I had more tests done. It was breast cancer again. I had a double mastectomy and more chemotherapy. I lost my long, beautiful hair again. I never wore a wig, but I did get a henna tattoo. I also tried to have implants but that failed because of the radiation I had previously – that implant practically fell out of my body. 

After several months of healing, I swore off breast cancer forever, so I thought. In 2017, I felt tremendous pain in my left leg. I went to a chiropractor two times a week, but it didn’t help.  I was losing sleep and the pain was horrible.  

After six months of dealing with various doctors and medicines, I finally had a body scan (an MRI and a PET scan). And there it was in black and white. The cancer was back, in my spine. It is metastatic breast cancer.  

It has creeped around and still shows growth, but I show my teeth and put my fist in the air. I tell it, “You’re not getting me to be another statistic.” I stand my ground with a vengeance to defeat this setback in my life. It is now 2022 and my tumor markers have gone up. It has weaseled its way to my skull, but not my brain. I am truly grateful that this has not spread to any of my very healthy organs.  

I have wonderful doctors. From the phlebotomy nurses to radiation therapy to surgical doctors.  

My loving, supportive husband and family make things that could be a horrible, dreadful experience better. Support and a healthy outlook are so very important. I ignore my state of being for the most part and carry on my life as normal as it can be. I’m starting to act like that spry 60-year-old grandmother. I have four sons who are all grown and doing their thing and pop in to see how Mom is doing. It was hard to convince them not to worry. I do love my life and try to keep up with myself.  

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.