Community Stories.

You Aren’t Alone.

Find Strength in Stories from Our Community.

Sometimes, the most healing thing to do is to remind ourselves over and over and over, other people feel this, too.

– Andrea Gibson

We all have a story.

You know the one. The words. That moment. When you, or someone you love, heard . . .

”I’m sorry, but you have cancer.”

I’ve spoken with hundreds of survivors and patients and learned that many of us experienced the same thing in that moment.

The out of body experience. The shock. The disbelief.

The certainty that you’ll later get a call telling you this was all just a big mistake.

THAT story!
Our stories matter. YOUR story matters.

Together, our stories help others going through the same thing.

Mary Jill.

It was 2016. I had been feeling pretty crappy for a while — nausea, fatigue . . . I owned a yarn shop and my employees kept having to wake me up. In a move that was uncharacteristic for me, I scheduled a checkup in October because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had lost some weight, but I was overweight so I thought that was a good thing.

My doctor did a breast exam and said, “I think you need a diagnostic mammogram.” I had no clue what that was. She said I could call the hospital and set it up. The next day, I called and they said my doctor had to set it up. So I promptly forgot about it.

In March 2017, a nurse called and asked why I hadn’t had the mammogram. I explained, and the next day I went to have the mammogram. I looked at the ultrasound image and saw what looked like a constellation. It was even swirly. I knew it wasn’t good.

The next day (Mayo Clinic DOES move fast!) I had a biopsy. By the end of the day they called to say the doctor wanted to meet me the next day, but they wanted me to have an MRI first. It was at that moment that I knew . . . I had cancer. To be honest, I was actually hoping it was cancer. Not because I wanted cancer, but what else could be making me feel so rotten?

The next day, March 23, 2017 (the day before my 57th birthday) I waited in one of the small consultation rooms at Mayo. A young doctor entered the room. He sat. And he said, “The type of cancer you have . . . ” and I heard nothing after that.
I had 16 courses of chemo — 12 weekly ones followed by 4 bi-weekly ones. They kicked my ever-living butt. I am diabetic and they told me, “Eat whatever you want. If you want hot chocolate, don’t forget the marshmallows and use whole milk.” I kept losing weight, albeit slowly.

I had a mastectomy in November to remove my right breast and every lymph node they could find, which turned out to be 40 or so. I started radiation and had 30 treatments in January and February, 2018. But I never bounced back. My appetite was poor, and I started using medical cannabis, although it didn’t help much. I was too tired to hold down a job.

In July 2021 I fell and landed squarely on my knee. The pain kept increasing. On August 3, 2021 my hip broke and I had a full hip replacement the next day. I got a call the next week saying that my GP (the same one who sent me for the diagnostic mammogram in 2017!) wanted to do my surgery follow-up, which I thought was kind of strange. First red flag. This woman goes to my church and we have played in bell choir together! When I went in for the appointment, her first question was about pain. I asked if I could get more pain meds, to which she answered I could get all the meds I needed. Second red flag. Then I said something about blood sugar and she said, “Let’s not worry about things that aren’t important anymore.” Third red flag. My doc’s MISSION IN LIFE has been bugging me about blood sugar ever since becoming my doctor.

Then she looked at me and said, “Mary Jill, your hip bone tested positive for cancer.” I lost the ability to breathe. I had my first-ever PET scan which showed my pelvic and hip bones were strong but most of the marrow was now cancer. There was also a small spot in my chest, probably a lymph node.

I have decided to have no treatment. At least at this time. I am taking pain meds only.

Anthony celebrated Mary Jill sharing her story by investing in CANCER FUND. You can, too!


After a fun-filled day with friends, I returned home and sat down to relax. I felt a soreness on my right side. I felt a lump the size of a golf ball in my right breast. Fluid was excreted if I pressed on my breast. It was late in the afternoon and after talking with my sister, she reassured me it was probably a blocked milk duct. I had gone running, then swimming, on a very hot July day.

I called my OBGYN the next day and took the 3:30 appointment so I didn’t have to miss work. When the doctor left the room and the staff started buzzing around, I began to get nervous. The breast center was closed and they could not get me in for a mammogram until the next day. When I arrived at 10 am on Tuesday, I was told the doctor was expecting me.

WHAT? I was not expecting a doctor to be waiting for me and again. The anxiety returned.  After a mammogram & ultrasound, they flipped the room into a surgical room to perform a biopsy. When I was finished the doctor told me I had an appointment with the surgeon in 2 days.

The surgeon told me [it was] DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma InSitu) breast cancer and [the lump] was estimated to now be the size of an orange. They would do a mastectomy followed by reconstruction. I was assured I probably did not need chemo or radiation.

The surgery told a different story. Cancer was found in my centennial lymph node. My diagnosis changed from stage 0 to Stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. Chemo and radiation were now necessary.

This is the beginning of my story which all occurred within days.

Anthony celebrated Cindy sharing her story by investing in CANCER FUND. You can, too! 

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