Survivor Stories 2013:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I noticed redness and inflammation on my right breast, so I went to my doctor. I was curious more then concerned at that point. After all, I had had a mammogram five months earlier and the result was normal. I was told I have HER2 positive inflammatory breast cancer, stage IV. Metastatic to the bones.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
My life literally flashed before my eyes. I saw my husband’s face, my three beautiful children, my friends, my family, my nice wonderful, simple, normal, and hectic healthy life zip right past me.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
Within a week I was on my first course of treatment, chemotherapy. With inflammatory breast cancer, the area needs to be “calmed down immediately”. I was first but on Herceptin, Taxoter and Cytoxan for 3 rounds then switched to Perjeta, Herceptin and taxotere for 15 rounds. After my pet scans were showing no evidence of the disease I was put on Herceptin and Perjeta 1 time every 3 weeks. I was diagnosed, June 8th, 2012, the very first day the drug Perjeta was FDA approved! I call that a God’s wink!
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
Naturally, over the course of treatment, I have had my moments of discomfort and frustration, but compared to stories I have heard, my symptoms are less significant and extremely manageable. The support of friends has been amazing, I could never have done this journey so successfully without my phenomenal friends! Bosom Buddies!
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Life doesn’t stop in the face of a cancer diagnosis in fact, it often gets busier. It can be a juggling act that can challenge even the most proficient multi-tasker . Don’t be shy or ashamed to accept help. You need to put yourself first so you can kick butt with your diagnosis!
6. How long have you been cancer free?
Unfortunately with the type of breast cancer I’m facing, it is treated chronically. Thank God my current course of action, a maintenance chemo of Herceptin and Perjeta are working beautifully. Surgery may be an option down the road. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
My mantra is to stay positive and surround yourself with people, places and things that make you happy. Life is really too short, live each moment to the fullest.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
You are not alone! There are so many incredible resources for women with breast cancer. Ask your healthcare provider with any concerns or questions they can always steer you in the right direction. Take advantage of all the services offered to you especially support groups. Do your research, knowledge is power! You want a great team that will kick cancer’s butt with you.
53 year old Sharon Bozentka was diagnosed with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in June of 2012. As a former New York marketing executive, Sharon relied on the love and support of her large family, including her husband and three children, to help her with the difficult news. Everyone pitched in to help, including friends who dropped off dinner and helped with the kids. Throughout her journey, Sharon has met many other women with breast cancer, and they have learned to draw strength from each other.
* HER2-positive breast cancer is one form of breast cancer. Characterized by aggressive growth and a poor prognosis, it affects approximately 25 percent of women with breast cancer. Targeted treatment options in combination with chemotherapy are available for people with this form of the disease.