, October 26, 2018 | More Post by

Peggy (left), her daughter, and her infant grandson (taken five years ago).

This is Part 2 of Peggy’s cancer story. Read part one HERE if you haven’t yet. Peggy’s daughter (pictured here) is also a survivor who is a part of the H4TG family.

…So, the next two weeks went flying by. Our older daughter finished her finals at college and came home before she drove up to her boyfriend’s (now husband) graduation festivities for his graduation. Our younger daughter was finishing up her junior year of high school. I had told a very close friend what was going on so that she could be a support for my girls (and me). I had picked up my films from the radiology office and my husband looked at all of them. I got all of the mammogram films so he could see the progression of the cancer over the previous few years. Unfortunately, the reports that were sent to my physician did not include the telltale clumping of cells in my breast. I must say that he did a fabulous job around the girls and not mentioning that.
The day that we went to my Breast Surgeon was the same day that our older daughter left for West Point in New York. I think all of us were on edge those last days before THE DAY.
When we arrived at the Breast Center, I was alarmed at the number of women who looked just like me—-scared—and the husbands/partners sitting there trying to ignore where we all were and why we were there. My name was called and I went back alone first. My husband would come back in a little bit. I walked into the doctor”s office and he was sitting behind his desk with my mammogram films on his view box. I felt very comfortable and safe with this surgeon and he was trying to explain what was on the films. I told him that I was a nurse and that I wanted nothing “sugar-coated” and I prefer no mincing of words. He told me that it appeared I had a tumor and he wanted to do an exam and sonogram. So, that was done and my husband was called back. The surgeon said that he was 99.9% sure that I had cancer, but a biopsy would confirm it. He asked me when I wanted to have that done, I told him “yesterday.”

Back to the examination room for a needle aspiration biopsy with sonogram. The surgeon showed me the two tubes and he said that he knew it was cancer, but the biopsy would confirm. I hadn’t cried at all before and I have to admit that I cried and cried. My husband was called in and he just held me while I cried. The nurse in the Breast Center who had been with me during the biopsy brought me a small ice pack to slip inside my bra for the biopsy site and she told me that she was a breast cancer survivor and now I could officially say that I was too.
We had one last appointment with my breast surgeon to review the biopsy results and decide the course of action. No surprise that I had cancer and that it was invasive ductal. The surgeon took his time and we covered all of the options. He also mentioned a final phase clinical trial for something called SENTINEL NODE BIOPSY. My patient information was put into some computer and I was put into one of two groups. I forget which was which, but I remember that if I woke up with an incision under my arm, that it wasn’t a good sign. Surgeon told us that my chances for survival were basically the same whether I had a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. My husband and I both determined we would go with the lumpectomy because it made no difference on my final outcome and it was less surgery to go through.
Surgery date scheduled for two weeks from that date. June 10, 2002. A date that neither my husband or I will never forget….

Stay tuned for part 3!

, October 09, 2018 | More Post by

Our “A Calendar to Live By” features 11 survivors we serve through Here for the Girls programs and their inspiring, uplifting stories about their cancer journey. Get to know this month’s model, Katy!

48, Diagnosed at 45

No family history – no known genetic mutation

Breast cancer doesn’t always reveal itself as a lump. Katy first noticed that her nipple had become inverted, followed a few weeks later by a rash around it, so she headed to the gynecologist, who ordered testing. Mammograms and ultrasound showed nothing, but a biopsy revealed stage III inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Her treatment included chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and radiation. Katy is an independent and private person and, although she and her husband often help others, wasn’t comfortable receiving help.  That has changed, however, because of the great support she received from her “rays of light,” which include her friends, two children, and husband, who has been by her side since day one. Early on, Katy connected with another Boober! with IBC. “She has really helped me navigate this journey with support and answering questions,” she says. In Katy’s eyes, Beyond Boobs! support is different because “Boobers! don’t just sit around and feel sorry for themselves. It feels more like friends getting together for a ladies’ night in. There is lots of laughter and hugs.” Now Katy hopes she will be a ray of light to others.

, October 02, 2018 | More Post by

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

This blog will be a three-part series on my journey with the diagnosis; my pain, my tears, my fears, my faith!

October 2017: A new month! So much has happened since my September 25th diagnosis. It’s now OCTOBER, the fall season. For me the most wonderful time of the year, when the air is crisp and the leaves are so beautifully colored.  When God paints His masterpiece and the world is beautiful. It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it’s MY BIRTHDAY MONTH! Yes, I said ‘month.’ I love birthdays; yours, mine, whomever, I just love them. I feel as though birthdays lift you up and gives you something to look forward to. October 2017, was my birthday month. In it, I was given a gift, and it was a gift like no other!

My first talk with God October 1, 2017, at 11:56 PM: It’s been a good day God. Service at church was a blessing and I was able to spend time with my fella; he always knows how to make me smile. I’m now on my way to my great-niece Laniyah’s Cheering Expo. I love my family and Lord I thank you for blessing me.  I know you’ve got this all in your hands and for that alone, I’m thankful.

We arrive at the expo and of course, the teams are recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with varied speakers, everyone wearing pink. I whisper over to my mom and say, ‘this time next year, I’ll be that person speaking to people,’ she said you’re right! I didn’t know at the time that I’d actually have a voice or the strength but here I am today; but God!

So where do I come up with The Month That Was All About Me?  Every October 1, I have two signs that I place at my desk, both given to me by former co-workers (Kelly and Denyse) because they knew that I celebrate the month!  One says Happy Birthday Vanessa the other says Birthday Girl! Visitors, parents, and students come in my office at the school and they all ask, did we miss your birthday?  My co-workers always say, no, Vanessa just celebrates for the entire month.

This October would be a little different. Still excited, but with a new feeling of celebration. This October included not just an age change, but also a life change. Beginning with my surgeon appointment on October 2, an MRI on October 11, then a lumpectomy October 19 and celebrating my 49th birthday on October 28.  Already this October is so much different from any other. But, I can’t not celebrate, because I’m alive, I’m healed and God has restored my body.  How can I not celebrate? I honestly said, “God, in His infinite Glory and humor, I know this month is and has always been about me, but in 2018 you can hold back some”!

My talk with God on the day of my surgery – October 19, 2017 at 7:15 AM: Today is my day of restoration. I am whole, my body is renewed and my mind is at peace. Thank You Lord! I’m now on the way to the hospital in the car with mom and she seems calm. Lord I already know that I’m healed. I know that you have already done what You said You would do and I’m grateful! Thank You Jesus!

As I was coming out of surgery, I remember the surgeon (Dr. Misti Wilson) saying, ‘Ms. Spurlock, everything went well and your nodes were all clear.’  For all of the confusion that was still going on in my head, I heard this loud and clear and all I could whisper was thank you Jesus!

When I think now on asking God to hold back, I have to retract that statement because I want Him to give me all that He desires me to have. I didn’t ask for cancer, but it came. I didn’t ask for the worry or the fear that came with it, but it did. What I’ll ask now, is that God whatever you have for me; for only me, I’ll take it. We sing a song “What God Has For Me, It Is For Me.” So yes, I’ll take your favor, your blessings, your healing, and your grace, all of it!

October 2017 I received more than a new season, more than the age 49, more than cake and candles. October 2017 I received the gift of restoration, of healing, of stronger faith and most of all a reason to truly celebrate.

My talk with God on my 49th Birthday, October 28, 2017 at 7:00 AM: 49 years old today and Lord I thank you. This morning I woke up thankful but emotional crying tears of joy and of praise. Lord this birthday could have been so different, but You kept me! Breakfast with mom, Gayle and Laniyah. Just to be able to spend this time with my family I thank You! Dinner with Fred; Oh Lord, he’s so good to me and he’s truly a blessing in my life. Thank you for his kindness and his strength and just for being here for me. This day October 28, 2017 I will remember forever!

October 2017 was a challenge; but I came through. I was given a gift like no other and yes, I will continue to celebrate ‘me’! Not just because it’s my birthday month, but also because now I have reason to celebrate just a bit more. I never thought that I took days for granted until I was faced with not knowing what was to come the next day and the day after; and the day after. Now, I take each day, one day at a time. I remember moments differently. I look at things differently and I think in some ways I am different.

I know that we are only given one life to live, but sometimes I feel as though I’ve had two. The life I lived before diagnosis and the life I’m living after. October 28, 2018, I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday. Many have asked what my plans are; I tell them ‘I just plan to be here!’  I don’t know the plans that God has for me; but what I do know, is that I will continue to live my best life!

My final blog in November:  Just Being Thankful

Vanessa Spurlock

About me:
Richmond, Virginia, Here For the Girls Boober!
Diagnosed: September 25, 2017
Age: 49
ER/PR+ Her2- / BRCA-
Lumpectomy: October 19, 2017
Radiation: November 29 – December 27, 2017
Tamoxifen: January 1, 2018 – present