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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Who Gets Breast Cancer and Who Survives?

Who Survives? continued...

About 2 months after her diagnosis, she underwent a lumpectomy (a partial removal of a breast), followed by 12 rounds of chemotherapy over 3 months and 33 straight days of radiation. "The chemotherapy really breaks your body down in its effort to kill off the cancer cells. You have to be patient with your body as it rebuilds itself. That was really difficult for me -- losing my hair, the darkening of my fingernails, the foods not tasting like it should, and the fatigue."

In fact, Bivins says, she’s just started to feel like herself again. She credits a strong support system and lots of prayer for getting her through her ordeal. Her older son acted as a "personal taxi service," shuttling her to and from medical appointments. Friends and relatives cooked meals and kept her spirits up. Coworkers made baskets of supplies - she says the crossword puzzles really kept her mind busy during her treatments.

Expert Advice

"Nearly 5,000 women are newly diagnosed with breast cancer every week in the U.S.,” Citrin says. "Despite the astounding number of women diagnosed, early-stage breast cancer is a highly treatable disease from which many patients can confidently expect to be cured."

He gives this advice:

  • If you find a lump in your breast, tell your doctor right away. (In a study he recently did, one out of every 10 women who felt a cancerous lump in her breast delayed seeking medical advice for a year.)
  • Find out how advanced the cancer is, and what type you have.
  • Explore all treatment options. Talk with a surgeon and an oncologist before choosing a plan.
  • Complete the recommended treatment program.

Just a year after starting treatment, Bivins is cancer-free. She meets with other patients and survivors to offer support and encouragement. "I've shifted the focus of my life now to how I can help others," she says.

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Reviewed on November 30, 2015

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