Breast Cancer Survivor Testimonials
You must be your own advocate. My mother died of Breast Cancer in 1969. The pencil eraser sized lump was excised with a mastectomy. No radiation was required and within 2 years it had spread and she died. My gynecological visits always involved breast checks. In 1998, I expressed a concern because the nipple on my left breast had inverted. My doctor replied, “Anita, you read too much”. My radiologist always gave me the results before I dressed. When he claimed that all was the same as the previous year, I informed him of my concern. Whoops! A sonogram was taken and I was sent to a breast surgeon. A lumpectomy was performed and radiation afterwards. 22 years later, I am a proud survivor at 92 years old.
~Anita Nebelkopf Cohen
I am a three-time breast cancer survivor, having been first diagnosed with metastatic intraductal cancinoma at the age of 37. At that time, I was a single mom living on my own with my young daughters. After my mastectomy, I went through six months of intensive chemotherapy. During this time I started dating an incredible man, who is now my husband. He was there supporting me throughout my treatment. Because of his love and encouragement, I was able to
continue to teach AP Biology, sponsor the Student Government and be principal of a religious school in the evenings. After my successful treatment, my oncologist had me reach out to several of his patients for encouragement and advice. Throughout the years, I’ve also contacted anyone I knew who was diagnosed with breast cancer and met with them to give them support and hope. Unfortunately, 6 years after my initial diagnosis, I had another tumor develop in my remaining breast. Since it had not metastasized to my lymph nodes, I opted for a lumpectomy and radiation. I was cancer free for 23 years until I developed another tumor with HR2 Positive receptors. After another mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and immunotherapy, I’ve been cancer free for four years. The drugs today, including Herseptin, are so much more specific to individual tumor receptors, resulting in saving millions of lives. Now that I’m retired from teaching, I’m very passionate about giving back and becoming more active in volunteering to help raise money for breast cancer research and support breast cancer survivors. Last year I was a model for The
Runway to the Cure at the Reston Town Center in which we raised over $45,000. In January I was appointed to their board and I’m honored to be co-treasurer of this very worthwhile organization. When I’m not supporting charities and warrior women, I’m an avid tennis player and gym rat. However, my greatest joy is visiting with our four amazing children and 6 beautiful grandchildren.
Think you don’t have to worry about breast cancer because you’re young or don’t have a family history of breast cancer? Think again. About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women without a family history of the disease. That was me. I thought I was way too young to worry about this. I just had had a baby. No one in my family had breast cancer. So what the heck was this lump in my left breast? I was lucky. My doctor took it seriously and made sure I began treatment quickly. My oncologist recommended a support group of other young women who helped me emotionally. Local breast cancer charities provided information and support. I survived. And that’s the thing about breast cancer: More of us are surviving because millions of women organized, raised money and demanded more research into this disease that strikes 1 in 8 of us over our lifetime. Thanks to them, the survival rate of breast cancer has vastly improved. On the other hand, there are still too few women getting screened with a mammogram, and more than 42,000 who will die from breast cancer this year. Take my word, and the word of other survivors of this insidious disease. Do self-exams of your breasts monthly and if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked. Get a regular mammogram so any disease can be caught early. If you’re under 50, ask your doctor if you have dense breasts, which can raise your risk. It’s your precious health. Take care of it.
It was October 1999 and time for my annual gynecological checkup. Nothing felt unusual about the checkup. It simply felt like another appointment not dissimilar from meeting with a colleague. I was lucky that my relationship with Dr. Rosen, my OBGYN, was close and he knew my family history well and I considered him a dear friend. Everything felt routine and business as usual but as soon as he started my check-up he discovered a lump. He immediately scheduled a mammogram and sonogram for the following morning. Despite the doctor’s initial concern nothing showed up. Dr. Rosen immediately set up a follow up appointment with a Breast Surgeon who indicated that I should wait for my next period and then he would determine the procedure. He did not appear alarmed in the slightest. However, Dr. Rosen, who I am grateful for to this day, stressed that I should have it removed immediately. January 4, 2000 a lumpectomy was performed that indicated cancer. Since there were no clear margins from the frozen section, I returned for more surgery, and all lymph nodes were removed. My family was faced with a daunting legacy of breast cancer. My Maternal Grandma was taken by Breast Cancer in 1969 when she was 65. My mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 1997 and is also a proud survivor. Both her and I have been tested many times since our diagnosis for BRAC-I and BRAC-2 numerous times as new discoveries are always being made. Thankfully neither of us are carriers for the gene. Since I was 43 years old, premenopausal, I required 6 months of chemo followed by radiation. My sons Benjamin and Mathew were in 3rd and 7th grade at the time, and everything I read taught me a positive attitude was so important for survival and to see my children grow. up unscathed by my Cancer diagnosis. Rather than be engulfed in sorrow while being faced with my own mortality I chose to face life head on and embrace all the beauty and wonder it had to offer. I would not allow this disease stop me from seeing my boys become men and keep from becoming the woman I wanted to be. I could not have done it alone. I was so blessed to have a loving and supportive husband to be by my side while I underwent chemo. He gave me a sense of strength and hope I could not have found in anyone else. I also found strength and renewal in my dear friends, Faye, Marilyn and Candy and of course my Mom, who were all survivors. They helped show me the path to overcome and truly taught me what it meant to be a warrior. My family and friends served as a wonderful support system to help me through this time in my life. Under normal circumstances, I would never have accepted help with meals, etc, but it was my Rabbi that explained to me the importance of the community and accepting help from others in a time of need. Friendship and compassion go hand in hand and become an essential part of healing in times of need. This was made ever more clear to me when I underwent my diagnosis and recovery.It is because of all the experience of myself and those I love that Breast Cancer and Research is so important to me. Since my diagnosis, I have been striving to support other women faced with Breast Cancer. I have continued to raise money and give support in whatever capacity I could. I have worked for Komen Race for the Cure, and numerous other organizations throughout the years to raise awareness and help find a cure.I am so proud to be a Breast Cancer Survivor of over 21 years! Breast Cancer treatment has so come far since my Grandma passed away in 1969. Thanks to early screening, advances in medicine, and greater vigilance from our healthcare professionals countless lives have been saved. I have watched in amazement as advocacy and support has reached new heights. Everywhere from local 5ks to the NFL is helping to raise awareness and support our cause. I am so grateful to be a survivor and I believe that one day all of our hard work will find a cure.
~Cheryl Cohen Mihal
We're proud supporters of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Over the years, Sew Special's founding family has been dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness . Their enthusiasm to help motivated their repeated contributions to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. CEO/founder Cheryl Cohen Mihal spent years raising donations and bring awareness through breast cancer themed items such as the annual calendar/ health guide, pens, and other promotional merchandise (see photos below). Not only was Cheryl Cohen Mihal diligent in her own support of breast cancer awareness and cancer survivors, but the generosity became a family endeavor as they participated in several Race to the Cure events. Furthermore, Cheryls's son Matthew was very inspired by his mother's philanthropic zeal; he chose to raise money for Susan G. Komen as his Mitzvah project by selling the adorable cancer awareness plush bears (see left photo), donating $500 to the organization. Giving back remains at the forefront of Cheryl and Matthew's roles at Sew Special, LLC. Help them continue to spread kindness and support to those affected by checking out our breast cancer awareness merchandise and/or viewing breast cancer survivor testimonials here.