In July of 2010, eight amazing women came together to share their personal stories about their experience with Breastcancer.org. This compelling film is a small part of their overall journey; it debuted at Breastcancer.org’s 10 year anniversary celebration. We are thrilled to share this film with you.
Breastcancer.org would like to thank everyone who participated in the development of this film, including Stonyfield for their generous funding, and jodyandiane Creative Communications, LLC and WeaselWorks, Ltd for creating and producing this film.
“I recently had to undergo a biopsy on my left breast. While waiting for the results and fearing the worst, I decided to do some research on the subject, over the internet. By far, your site offers the most comprehensive and reliable information as far as my research was concerned. Fortunately, my results came back negative. I will never forget how much your site helped me to ease the stress and worries that filled my waiting.” —Ana
Shirley Thompson wants all family physicians and breast cancer surgeons to recommend Breastcancer.org to their patients.
In the spring of 2002, 64-year-old Shirley Thompson was content with life. In good health and looking forward to her first year of retirement, she was surrounded by a loving family and devoted to her church. But then, in an instant, everything changed. Shirley discovered a lump under her arm. The diagnosis came quickly: breast cancer.
Though Shirley had an excellent medical team, strong family support, and a deep faith in God to sustain her, she still felt overwhelmed and alone. She was frightened of the future and fearful that she was going to die.
Then, her radiation oncologist, Dr. Marisa Weiss told her about Breastcancer.org. For Shirley, the Breastcancer.org web site became an invaluable source of information and reassurance. It answered many of her questions about diet and addressed her fears about recurrence. It provided helpful tips on living a healthier lifestyle. Because Breastcancer.org was such a crucial resource for her, Shirley wants all family physicians and breast cancer surgeons to tell their patients about this important web site, since these doctors are the first place women with breast cancer turn for information.
Through the new knowledge she gained from Breastcancer.org, and with the support, advice, and guidance of her friends, Shirley began to believe that it was possible to survive and even thrive after a breast cancer diagnosis. Eventually, she was able to say to herself, "O.K., this is going to be one bad year out of my life, and then I'll be all right and I'll move on."
Now, having just completed her treatments, Shirley is looking forward to her retirement once again—and to spending a lot of time with her new granddaughter.
“Thank you. I was just diagnosed with breast cancer and was given so much information my head was spinning. Your site gave me a clear understanding, and answered questions I had not even thought of to ask, and showed me that I can understand medical terms. Now I know what to ask! I thank you for your generous guidance.” —Debra
“I am a radiotherapy student at Liverpool University and I would like to say how wonderful this site is. All the possible information a patient may need is here presented in an easy-to-read, non-alarming way. Thank you for producing a site that gives patients a chance to research and understand all aspects of their treatment.” —Rachel, healthcare professional
Kathy Hubbard found that turning to Breastcancer.org helped her young family cope.
One of the most difficult aspects of a breast cancer diagnosis is having to tell family members about it. When the family includes very young children, deciding what and how much to tell them can be agonizing. At first, Kathy Hubbard and her husband, Smith Ragsdale, weren't sure where to turn for information. They told their children what they could: that mommy was going to feel sick from the chemotherapy, that mommy was going to lose her hair.
Then Kathy's doctor, Marisa Weiss, told her about Breastcancer.org. The Breastcancer.org web site was filled with important information about Kathy's diagnosis, written in a clear, understandable style, that didn't "talk down" to its readers. On the discussion boards, Kathy found comfort in the personal stories of women her age who were undergoing treatment while raising small children. Their stories helped her realize that there was no one "right" way to deal with her illness. Each woman handled her situation in the way that was right for her and for her family. The couple also found links to other web sites that included a site specifically geared for the children of cancer patients. Breastcancer.org made talking to their children about mommy's disease easier, and the children were better able to accept the changes in their lives.
In fact, the girls became so comfortable that one morning, while Kathy was getting dressed, her girls came into her room looking mischievous. Before Kathy had time to speak, the eldest child whipped out a Barbie whose hair had been completely shorn. "This is so you don't feel bald alone, Mommy," she said. "We cut her hair!" declared the youngest. Chemo-Barbie now sits proudly on Kathy's desk, and Dr. Weiss asked for a picture to put on the Breastcancer.org web site.
“I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful site. My sister got diagnosed with breast cancer this week, and we didn't know what to do. I thought, we have to educate ourselves, and we came across this site. It has taught us a lot, and it has given us comfort. We are three sisters and we are holding on. I'm writing to say thank you, thank you, words are not enough....” —Liz
“Your site is excellent and provides very good, reliable information that's easy to understand, especially by people like me who are not experts in the subject. Thank you for providing such an excellent source!” —Kathryn, student
Marci Waldman made lifelong friends with several of the women she met online.
When Marci Waldman first discovered a lump on her breast at age 37, it didn't seem so bad. Her doctors believed the cancer had not spread, meaning her chances for full recovery were excellent. But weeks later, her oncologist discovered cancer cells in her lymph nodes.
Marci was so devastated and overwhelmed that she barely remembered a word the nurse said that day. She returned to her apartment and shut herself off from the world. She saw no one, took no calls, and did not go out. After four days of seclusion, she marshaled her inner resources. She looked in the mirror and asked, "Who am I?" She knew she had the strength to go on. Now she needed a way to take charge.
Marci determined that the first thing she had to do was understand her pathology report. She went to her internet search engine, typed in the words "pathology report," and up popped Breastcancer.org. She clicked on it, and soon found a section entitled "Understanding Your Pathology Report." Bingo! She was on her way. She began researching her treatment choices, questioning her doctors, and becoming a true partner in her treatment plan. With her newfound knowledge, she felt empowered and in control.
The online support network at Breastcancer.org was another critical factor in giving Marci the strength to deal with her illness. She actively participated in chats with other breast cancer patients, creating a very special chain of love and connection that sustained her through the tough times. "It was my life," she explains. Marci made lifelong friends with several of the women she met online. At the same time, her family and friends also gave her tremendous love and support.
Marci has now completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Back at work as a unit manager for the “The Early Show” on CBS-TV, she and her colleagues produced a six-part series on breast cancer that featured her story. The highlight of the series came during the final segment, when Marci appeared with three of her Breastcancer.org online friends. It was the first time they had met in person. The powerful emotions of this "reunion" testified to the strength of these women's no-longer-virtual friendship.
Read more encouraging stories submitted by women affected by breast cancer.