Survivor Stories 2014:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I found the lump myself in the shower. It had been almost a year since I had finished nursing my 3rd to see my OBGYN because I figured she knew my boobs probably better than I did. She thought it was possibly a clogged milk duct but because I was turning 40 she thought it best to go and get a mammogram just to make sure.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I think that there was a part of me that knew. I had just been shown the mammogram pictures and the mass that they were showing me was huge. I remember going right in from the mammogram to the ultra sound and having the doctor trying to gently tell me that I had a mass that didn’t look good. I looked right at her and said that I needed to be able to go home and explain this to my family, so was it cancer or not? She confirmed that it was cancer and all I could think about it how was I going to explain this to my husband, 3 young boys and the rest of my family.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
I was told that I would need to have a single mastectomy but I choose to have a double mastectomy. I did 6 rounds of ACT Chemo every 3 weeks for 18 weeks and 28 rounds of radiation.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
What surprised me the most through treatment was that I got tired and I didn’t want to eat but I didn’t loose any weight. The chemo was crazy to go through but I would have done more chemo if I could have skipped radiation. For some reason that was the hardest part for me. Maybe it was because I had to go everyday so it was a daily reminder. Maybe it was because I could see the light at the end of the treatment tunnel and the 3rd
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
I would say to slow down. All the decisions you are about to make are based on facts and emotions. Take a few days and weigh out all the options because once you go all the way you can’t go back. What I tell other ladies is to ask yourself if your boobs are a key part of your sex life. If they are think long and hard about removing them if you don’t have to. You can always choose to remove them later but once they are gone you can’t get them back.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
I have been cancer free for 6 years!!!!!
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
I’ve learned that I have a great support system. My family was fed every night for 6 months while I was going through surgeries and treatment. What a blessing that was for us. I have also been able to give back because of my experience. I always knew that my life was going to somehow be different and I was going to do something meaningful in my 40’s and boy has that come true. Not only do I mentor other young mom’s in my area but I also make mastectomy tops for ladies after surgery. The lives that my sister and I have been able to give a little comfort to has been so wonderful.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Take a deep breath and then let it out and then begin your journey as a THRIVER! You are not only going to survive through this crazy time but live beyond and thrive!
My name is Lesa Behrens and I am 45 year old mother of 3 boys. After finding a lump myself in my breast 6 years ago I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer. Instead of planning a 40th birthday party, like many of my friends were doing, I was planning out the next year of treatment and surgeries. My family and I have experienced a lifetime of change in these past 6 years. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction, 6 rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation. I lost my hair and I lost my breast but I didn’t loose my ability to laugh and enjoy everyday while raising 3 boys. The physical changes have been challenging at times. I teach swimming to small children so I live in a bathing suit 6 months out of the year which makes me that much more aware of my surgeries.
Through this journey I have been able to experience a lot of joy. My sister and I started a business that gives us the ability to give back. We not only make tops for mastectomy/surgery patients but I get to mentor other young mothers who are going through the same thing. What is so interesting about young moms and ladies with breast cancer is that we fall into our own little niche that is growing. It is such a different ballgame when you are trying to hold it together and raise your kids while fighting cancer. I have also been able to become a part of the Young Survivors Coalition. I am a co-leader/mentor for other young ladies who are going through this. I have meet some of the most amazing women and people over the past 6 years that I would not have meet if it were not for having cancer.