Welcome to our 20th Anniversary Sisters’ Journey Breast Cancer Survivors’ Calendar.
For 20 years, Sisters’ Journey has been doing its part of “breaking the silence” – silence that refers to the cultural secrecy that exists in so many of our communities when someone is diagnosed with cancer and it was taboo to talk about. With this openness of communication that Sisters’ Journey has been able to unleash, we have been able to educate, empower and encourage women to be their own health advocates and to promote early detection screenings in hope of saving lives.
I recently asked a local breast surgeon about her insights on what changes she had seen in breast cancer treatments and care advancements over the last 20 years.
- Improved survival rates, so that women with Stage 0, Stage 1 or Stage 2 have 100% survival rates.
- The availability of more detailed analysis of women with specific types of breast cancer that can yield a precise score to more accurately predict the chance of cancer recurrence and provide enhanced information as to whether the patient should have chemotherapy or not.
- Twenty years ago, all women with invasive cancers had lymph node removal of up to 25 lymph nodes. Since 1999, women with the same disease can have as few as 1-5 sentinel lymph nodes removed with 96% accuracy of knowing if there are tumor cells in the nodes and a much lower risk of lymphedema.
- More women now have the choice of lumpectomy rather than mastectomy because of cancer cells being found much earlier.
There is a long line of breast cancer in my family. My Great Aunt Natalie’s passing was my mother’s inspiration for the original calendar project. And my Great Great Aunt Vivienne’s longevity (she lived to be 104) and breast cancer survival gave her the honor of gracing the very first calendar cover (photo right). Knowing my family history has encouraged me to be more proactive about my own health.
In our quest for information, this calendar like the other 19 will not disappoint. With each passing year and with each story, we have learned something new, and we
are often surprised how different everyone’s breast cancer experience is. Every survivor demonstrates such admirable strength and courage as they take us through their cancer journey.
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer death rates (www.cancer.org) have dropped by more than 20%. That is amazing progress, but we still have more work to do.
We are so grateful for all of the love and support everyone has shown over the years, and hopefully, my mother’s legacy of being there for women diagnosed with breast cancer will carry over for generations to come.
Peace and Blessings,
In September 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage 2, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer after finding a lump in my left breast during self-examination. This diagnosis shocked me because I had a mammogram in March another in April because my breasts were throbbing due to my late night coffee drinking habit while writing college papers.