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 Survivor Stories 2013:
Denaige Pizzutello

How did you first find out you had cancer?

I had fibrocystic cysts, so though I felt lumps, I never knew what I was feeling. But, I mentioned to my OB/GYN that my left armpit felt “thicker” than my right. He ordered a mammogram, sonograms, and MRIs. Finally, I had a biopsy, and sure enough, it was cancer.

How did you react when you heard the news?

One of my sisters had been diagnosed a few years earlier and my mother-in-law the previous year, so I was conversant and very scared. My daughter was only 6 when I was diagnosed, and I wanted to live to see her life unfold.

What course of treatment were you prescribed?

I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

What most surprised you about your treatment?

After all the testing, it was only found in my left breast and after pathology reports came back, it was found in both breasts.

What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?

Though I would never want to tell anyone what to do, I would want them to know that I have no regrets about having both of my breasts removed. If I had not done so, I would have been dealing with a reoccurrence at some point and who knows how soon they would have found it the second time around.

How long have you been cancer free?

I am six years cancer-free on October 12, 2013.

What lessons did you learn from the experience?

Try to live each day to its fullest. Embrace who you are. Embrace who others are. Love passionately. Do for others. Compassion will forever dwell in me. God is certainly my God.

If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?

The greatest gift is love–whether we are receiving it or giving it. When it truly resides in our hearts, we begin to unravel all the other gifts that God has for us.

I have been married to the love of my life, Mike, for 27 years on October 31, 2013. I am the proud mother of Franki Pizzutello, 13, who is the apple of our eyes. I am a bayou-dipped Cajun with seven siblings, one of whom is also a breast cancer survivor. I served in the United States Army–with a short stint at West Point–as a counterintelligence agent for six years. I served as MetroTex Association of REALTORS® MLS Director for nine years and I am currently Republic Title Continuing Education Director, where I have been for 10 years.

On October 12, 2007, I had a double mastectomy. Though the cancer was initially only found on one side, I decided on a double and pathology revealed cancer in both breasts. In July of 2009, I had a full hysterectomy. I am walking my fifth Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk. I have walked in at least five of the local 5K Race for the Cure walks. I volunteer at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas working with breast cancer patients. I am grateful for the life that God has given me and the love that He has filled me with.