The Story of Surviving Survivors™ I was diagnosed with Stage IIb breast cancer after my honeymoon in November 2005. I had bilateral mastectomies (2005 and 2006), with reconstruction in 2007. I began in January 2007 with the standard eight chemo sessions (4 treatments of Adriamycin/Cytoxan and four of Herceptin/Taxol). I continued with Herceptin, with the addition of Tamoxifen, for two years. All of this was completed by end of 2009. I was told I had only a 20% chance of recurrence. I did get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2008 and was working for the military in a PT clinic I helped set up. I loved this job! For a year my husband and I tried for a child, but that was not in God’s plan the summer of 2010, the cancer came back strong! Lymph nodes, lining of both lungs, multiple bone lesions, and significant pleural effusion. Two oncologists gave me 3-5 years with a 20% survival after 5 years; I went on permanent disability. After three months of strong chemo and several thoracenteses to drain my lungs, I was cancer free!!!! This is the time I truly found the Lord, and this faith has continued. Several years of chemo, both IV and then pill form, kept me stable. However, in January 2014, the cancer returned in my brain (five lesions) and an ovary. For the brain metastasis, whole brain radiation and Cyberknife radiation decreased the five lesions to two. Surgery and a change in chemo treatment cleared the ovarian area.
Since 2014 I have remained with two stable lesions in my brain. I DID have two small recurrences in 2015 and 2016 with involved pelvic lymph nodes where surgery had been; scans have been clear since January of this year. I call myself a ‘Surviving Survivor.’ This experience has truly grown my faith in so many ways! Without my faith and trust in God, along with the love of my family, friends, and my competent and caring medical team, I truly believe I would not be here now. A struggle it has been, but through these struggles we grow in Jesus. I pray my story will inspire others to Let Go and Let God.
After my last recurrence in early 2016, I decided to do something different in my life. With a lot of prayer and faith in the Lord, I decided to make my passion of skin care and makeup into something! I started with Look Good Feel Better, but without a cosmetology or esthetics license, I was not allowed to teach classes. So, I went back to school! I started my basic esthetics program June 1, 2016 and was licensed in the state of Virginia end of December the same year! Next goal: having my own spa to treat cancer patients, surviving or who have survived. It would be a FREE service, which next led to the blessing of an Oncology Spa Solutions three-day course in my area this past March!!!! The class solidified my choice and taught me more than my Basic Esthetics program ever did! While finishing the Esthetics program, I created my logo! It has been trademarked and registered (including my spa name)! Now I am ready and willing to begin this next chapter of my life!!! Though my focus is on Breast Cancer clients, we are ALL survivors of something! I pray my free gift to those who have had or are dealing with cancer will allow me to share my love of skincare!!! I also pray my story exemplifies the saving power of the Lord and the love of those around us! God Bless all those SURVIVING SURVIVORS!
On November 13th of 2017, I had my follow up PET Scan. Two very small cancer lesions were found in my pelvic and abdominal region. On December 7, 2017, I began weekly treatments of Taxol and Herceptin. This is a pretty strong treatment, and after six weeks treatment was decreased to 2 weeks on, 1 week off. However, my side effects were still very unpleasant, and not to mention I was scared!! Keeping my faith and praying for some relief, the doctor changed it to every other week. Oh, my Lord is generous and full of love; I had my PET Scan last week and Praise God it was negative for cancer!!!!! Again, He has touched me Ephesians 1:11 NIV in him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will The end of July and the month of August were very difficult physically and emotionally. During the end of July, I started having some strange symptoms. Basically, the entire left side of my body started to lose sensation, including lack of feeling for heat/cold, the ability to feel sharp objects and balance issues. The symptoms similar to a stroke, but thankfully without motor symptoms. After 4 MRIs of brain, neck, mid and low back, it was discovered that the brain lesion in my left cerebellum had grown significantly and was pressing on my brain stem, along with growth in two lesions on the right.
Once diagnosed, treatment started quickly. I had six radiation treatments during the end of the month and beginning of August. I will have a follow up MRI in October. I also had my follow up PET Scan the end of August. This scan showed one pelvic lesion came back and a new one in my lung. I will be starting chemotherapy starting September 14. I will be on chemo indefinitely. Obviously, I am not thrilled with this news. I will be going back on a chemo that I previously had in 2012, and if memory serves, it was not bad! My doctor will adjust and give breaks so that I have a good quality of life. I understand the need for continued chemo and have accepted this.
My faith is strong, and I have SO MUCH love and support from family, friends and My Lord. I am going to start making some life changes and continue to FIGHT!!!!! My ways and desires are not always part of God’s plans. However, I truly believe that one of my Purposes is to continue to reach out to other men and women who also continue to be impacted by this horrible disease through my spa Surviving Survivors™. I am truly able to continue my services and pray that those in need, whether it be through my facials or through my story!!!! My Lord is by my side, showing me mercy and grace, and the Holy Spirit will keep me strong! “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ Romans 8:28 NIV I wish to thank my parents and family, my caregivers, and all reading this for their thoughts and prayers. Thank you for letting me share my story. It is not a sad story, but one of “faith, hope and love!!! The greatest of these is love!’ 1 Corinthians 13:13 Love and Blessings to all! Michele