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Janelle’s Story (Breast Cancer)

Janelle's Story (Breast Cancer)On September 18, 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage III, at the age of 43.

I can honestly say these have been some of my darkest hours. My cancer has become all consuming, inhabits my every thought, and sometimes difficult to keep inside. I cannot scream in rage or cry tears of frustration in the house because of the little ones. They examine my face for any alteration. My therapy is through writing, and I regret if this process, in turn, produces a bother or sorrow on your part. Acceptance has been more challenging than I expected.

This news has really overwhelmed me and crushed my fortitude. I am so angry at my body for letting me down. I tried my best to care for it. I took my vitamins daily, ate my fruits and veggies, and years ago I stopped drinking and any “bad habit” that existed. I went for my physicals, I followed doctors advice, and I was proud of my body. I was amazed at what it accomplished and could do. It produced not one but two masterpieces of art, Mitchell and Lilly. Now I can’t look at it without feeling disgust for it has turned against me. I don’t want to be around the “healthy ones.” I can see why those with leprosy chose to be alone, away from everyone. I feel hollow. I no longer feel one and the same as my peers.

I had a double mastectomy on October 3, 2013, and I started my chemotherapy treatment December 4, 2013. I will complete chemotherapy by the end of May 2014. I am still struggling with what type of breast reconstruction I will proceed with, but I know that will come after my radiation in June. I have spent many days asking why, but through the help of my family, my work family, and my friends I have fought through this difficult battle.

I have spent this weekend at home, not checking email or researching breast cancer until dawn, but with my family. I mean REALLY with them, not just in the room observing. It was medicinal, the exact remedy needed. Ironically, the logic and analysis of a nine year old little boy was the answer to my many questions. Through his interpretation I finally comprehended the meaning of “this” and obtained my lucidity.

I was in bed, waiting for him to fall asleep the other night. I have to admit, I love this time with him. I know the darkness will not be his enemy much longer. He will not ask me to put him to bed, or read him a book, or snuggle close while proclaiming his deep love for me. During this time my big boy becomes my little boy, once again. His hard little edges soften and I see the same eyes returning to me, looking at me, as they once did when he was a baby. Our deepest conversations happen in this hour. I asked him how he was handling all of this stuff going on with mommy? These were the words he said:

“It’s okay Mom, I understand and I’m not too worried because you said God will not give us more than we can handle. I know they can’t stop people from getting cancer, and since there is no stopping it, somebody has to get it. I think it happens to the ones God knows are his strongest and best players. If I was picking my team I would pick you first cause I know you are the strongest and best player.”

There it was, the clarity I was so frantically in search of, given by the greatest philosopher I know, my nine year old son. He has always been a seeker of truth, a thinker, but he will never know how much his thoughtful, but simple theory was the guiding light I needed out of my self-inflicted tunnel of hopelessness. Those beautiful eyes saw, not an overweight and out of shape mom, but the strongest and best “player”. Thank you God for the eyes of a child. It felt like he called me his hero, but in the uncomplicated, effortless words of a little boy. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to hear this in my lifetime. I fell asleep, the last thought; I would have been my son’s first pick on his team if he were the captain! Life is good.

You can read more of what I write in my journal on my Facebook page called: ‘Janelle Wages War Against Breast Cancer’


Submitted 03/26/2014

The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Jeanne Carboni

    Hi Janelle,

    My heart goes out to you. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2009. I had 2 surgeries and radiation. No chemo, luckily. I have been on Tamoxafin for 4 years, and am carrying around an extra 20 pounds. I was always very fit before breast cancer, and still work out. But I must admit my self image and self esteem are not what they used to be. But I will not give up. I make every day as fun as possible, and smile even when I don’t feel like it. I make plans to look forward to so that I don’t fall into sadness.

    Please hang in there. You will look back on this and wonder how you got through it, but it will make you stronger. I hope that you are going to John Hopkins. They have amazing doctors there.


    • Janelle

      Thank you Jeanne, your support and kind remarks help my battle with breast cancer more than you can know. Thanks again, Janelle

    • Karen Ingalls

      Jeanne….janelle is a great friend of mine and co-worker. And Janelle, Jeannie was a neighbor when I lived in PA. I was not in PA when Jeannie I went through her battle but followed some of it on FB. Two very strong woman that have connected and both I know and pray for. So glad you two connected.

  2. Debbie

    Hi Janelle,

    I too was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 on July 26th. I remember walking over to the doctors office with my husband to get the results and saying…..there is no way this is cancer! What’s the chances? My sister just finished her horrible treatments in February. It’s only been 5 months. No way!
    Guess what? It was and it was stage 2 and I had to have a mastectomy and chemo. My last treatment was December 17, 2013. So my road wasn’t as long as yours. I want to tell you that once you get to the end of all the treatments you get your life back! I promise! You get it back! You can enjoy the kids and family and just be you again. Yes, you may look different but guess what….you have been to war and back and you have to the battle scars to prove it. Be proud of what you have accomplished! You are fighting for your life for you, your kids and your family. Stay strong!! Debbie

    • Janelle sterner

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and understanding reply. Your words of encouragement brought tears to my eyes. It amazes me, the bond , between those fighting cancer.
      Thank you,

  3. Virginia Johnson

    I felt sore in July of 2012 in October of 2012 I had a mammalgram ,it came back positive a week later I saw a Surgan an she did a biopsy an sent it a way didn’t here so they did the regular biopsy on one spot an altrosound on an altrosound biopsy under my arm because they couldn’t reach it with the regular biopsy. Two week later I had my masectmic I was up an walking the hall in the hospital I was told to exercise my arm an I chose to us the elastic strap they use for blood pressers I stretched all different ways.the muscles num Amalie at the same time an yet when u touched my arm I had know fealing the dealing came back slowly but I still have spots that are num. I went to see an oncologlast tweeks later an he ran a battery of tests an he found that I had kid EU cancer an the Friday before Christmas it was confirmed that I had kidney can certain first stage.I was told it could wait until after chemo an radiation. After Christmas I had my first chemo an I was so sick to my stumic that I had to go to the hospital an none of the meds worked so I had have adaven . My treatments where every three week for a year an after each treatment I had a new simptum an those one where only many but knot wit me I had every one of them from thrush to lose of finger nails an toe nails an hair . they gave me herseption along with the chemo to prevent the from coming back.I finished thechemo in April of 2013an I in May I had the radiation for 33 days and the rest of my herseption by August I was done with the radiation ,in October I had my kidney out by December I was finished with all my trest ment a surgery by January I had of an on bouts of say ness.I’m good now thanks to good friend to email to to talk to an I thank them for all there help an pray.I have prostice right now because I don’t weather or not go with the re construction or not. My add vice I don’t miss a mammalgraman be strong an determined to make it through it an have lots of love from friends an family .have them list I on a when u need itan make u smile an laugh when ur up to it. Pray to every one who hose through cancer an chemoan just remember god is with an helping u get through it too.a man.

    • Janelle sterner

      Thank you so much for your kind email. I appreciate your encouraging words. God bless you

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