Breast Cancer Stories Continued
Giving Hope to Women and Men in Need
Ambrose L.Kirkland-Breast Cancer Advocate, Blogger, Author, Radio Show Host at Breast Cancer Advocate. Lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
"On November 01, 2001 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This condition may not raise eyebrows unless it happened to you, and you happened to be a woman.
In my case, breast cancer raised more than a few eyebrows since I am a man. Believe me I was shocked and surprised. I went through a mental experience that
few men ever stop and think about, even in their wildest dreams. I guess you could say I found this lump many years ago. I just didn't pay attention to it. I knew
I had problems with my breast size, but always thought it was due to the fact that I was heavy. Guys who are fat usually have a lot of fatty tissue, so that's what I
thought it was. I'm sure people noticed that I had larger breasts than most men, but I didn't know it would turn out to be cancer. I was on a mission to suppress
them. I would wear small tee-shirts, sometimes wearing them two sizes too small. I would even go so far as getting an ace bandage and wrap it around my breast.
The best thing that worked for me is when I wore a medium to large tee-shirt; this of course is after I had sewn up the sides to compress the breast area. This tactic
seems to work for me for seven or eight years. As a matter of fact, I kept up the deception until October 2001. Trust me, keeping my breast under wrap was not an
easy job for someone as big as myself.
Before the biopsy I wouldn't say anything to anyone because I just thought it was a twinge of pain here and there. When I first felt the lump, it was was April 2001.
Ignoring it, until sometime later August 2001, when I started noticing spots of blood on my tight white tees. I'm thinking, "What the hell is going on now?" A lot
of things went through my mind than a discharge from my breast? This was the furtherest thing from my mind. The spots started getting larger and larger until one
morning I woke up and saw more blood. The months of September and October were spent going back and forth to the doctors and taking what seemed like an
endless battery of tests. I don't see how women can get a mammogram every year. But actually I had to get a mammogram!
Next I was seen by Dr. Sieloff who said it was probably a cyst. They found some calcification's from them mammogram and the doctors just wanted to make sure
it was all it was. So I had a biopsy done on that Monday, October 30, 2001. Of course, I had to wait for the results. Then on November 1, 2001 Dr. Sieloff called
and told me I had breast cancer. I was in shock but not surprised because of my paternal family history of breast cancer. I needed to tell my family and close friends.
I was then scheduled for a double mastectomy on December 13, 2001.
From June 2002 through July 2002 I endured ten and a half weeks of radiation at The Northeast Cancer Center in Florida. I also was told I couldn't have
chemotherapy because of the levels of estrogen in my body and the chemo would make me even sicker. After my radiation treatments. I began to get better
and that's when I started to writing about my breast cancer journey in a book titled, "Mamma I Found a Lump"
In 2013 I met male breast cancer survivor and reality TV producer, Alan Blassberg, who just happened to be working on a documentary about men and
And the reason it is called that is because Mr. Blassbergwas also the person who taught me about the BRCA gene, also known as the breast cancer gene.
Years of going back and forth to my doctors and they knewof my family history of breast cancer, and it took me going online to discover I might be a
carrier of this gene. I was angry. Not at Mr. Blassberg, but at my doctors. They knew. They should have informed me. It's terrible in the medical field
when it comes to breast cancer Mr. Blassberg reached out and led me into the right direction.
I have had quit a few scares with cancer trying to come back in 2014. I'm negative for both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes but once again I'm faced
with the unknown. I have two gene mutations fairly new called MRE11A and NBB. The research is only available for women. I've yet to find any research
out there for men. So once again I find myself a rarity in life.
I've just recently stared doing a radio show where I've mostly included Breast Cancer Survivors, on the Independent Internet Station: impmNation.com
show is called, "The Ambrose Kirkland Show" and I invite all Breast Cancer Survivors who are willing to talk about their journey and/or just vent if they need.
I also the host of an internet radio show called, "Get Your Laugh On." We all need a good laugh now and then with everything we're going through in life and
I try to provide that with my show.
When we go into the doctor's office and women imaging centers we never see brochures centered towards men with breast cancer. We need to do something about
this. Wee need more research done for men with breast cancer. Men are over looked because we only make up 2% of the 3 million cases in the United States. About
2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed last year. 440 men died from breast cancer, that's 440 too many. Breast cancer is about 100 times less
common among men than among women. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. That's still too many.
Also younger men and women in their twenties and thirties are dying from metastatic breast cancer because there is no cure.Metastatic breast cancer (also called
Stage IV or advanced breast cancer) or breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs int he body (most often in the bones, lungs, liver or brain).
Persons with metastatic breast cancer develop it when the cancer returns at a point after their initial breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Less than 8% of all research
funds collected are used for metastatic breast cancer and male breast cancer. Hopefully we can educate more people about breast cancer and we can change some of
Men Get Breast Cancer Too!
Victor Martinez that works for the El Paso Times wrote his own story on how he got breast cancer. Check it out at:
Peggy Anderson's Story:
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 after feeling a lump, and my doctor felt this same lump.
I had an analog mammogram and clinic breast exam, and the technician told me to go home and put tape on the lump to see if it grows. My Birad Score
was 0, normal. My doctor sent me to have an ultrasound on my breast. The technican did half an ultrasound, as she was tired. I went home frustrated,
and my doctor call me on 5/21/04. She sent me back with explicit instructions for a complete ultrasound on my breast. I know now how important it is
to trust your gut instinct and to know your body.
Roma, a different technican gave me a full ultrasound, and I had a biopsy on 6/11/04 with Dr. Hoyer at the same appointment. They were both wonderful.
I got a call about my biopsy results. I was given the stage score of 1 by the pathologist, who misdiagnoised me.
An MRI (for women with dense breasts) was schedule in June that picked up the breast cancer under my arm. Now if I was to have a sentinel node biopsy
or two nodes removed in July, I would have metastatic breast cancer. I am glad that I had the MRI. The tumor under my arm was 1.5 with metastatic carcinoma
and extradonal extensions. (I had 19 lymph nodes removed at the time of my first surgery in July.) I was also positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors
and had a 2 plus on my Her2 neu that was sent to the Mayo clinic to be rested with the Fish test. I was glad my insurance paid for the re-testing. My treatment
would of been different if this wouldn't of been done.
I had three surgeries in July of 2004, labeled lumpectomies and then a partial mastectomy, as they needed to get clear margins. My diagnosis was Stage 2a
with a different pathologist. My diagnosis was invasive ductual carcinoma (even thought it didn't show up well on the analog mammogram, and they thought
it was ductal). I also had 70% in situ that included cribriform, micropapillary, comedo necrosis types of the intermediate nuclear grade cells. I had 21 lymph
nodes removed under the arm in which one was metastatic around the edges, so I had radiation and extra radiation.
Later I had two more surgeries from lumps near my breast, and they were negative for cancer. I had five surgeries all together.
The hormone blocker, Armidex, an aromase inhibitor I was on it from the fall of 2004 until 8 years later.. I have bone infusions one time per year. I have
some neurapathy, lymphedema and fibrosis. Higher radiation fields increase one's risk of lymphedema. The neurappthy and fibrosis are from radiation.
The later from overlapping fields.
The Mayo Clinic has helped me to clarify my understanding of and the diagnosis after examining my records and slides as well. (Dr. Loni Neal). This
doctor stresses how important it is to maintain a healthy weight. I cannot say enough good things about her. She actually referred me for sleep anpea,
and I was diagnosed with it down there two years ago. (I had been untested after a referral in 2004 locally.)
I have had wonderful doctors at Essentia, Dr. Park Skinner (my exceptional surgeon for 5 surgeries) and Dr. Krook, my oncologist. Dr. Krook has since
retired. He helped me to find humor and laughter through my cancer. I just loved him. Dr. Sande has been my oncologist since Dr. Krook retired; he is
super and is on top of his game. I like how detailed he is, as I am very much the same way. Patients love him. Dr. Ingrid Nisswandt Larsen remains my
family physician and is is the best family physician because she REALLY listens to you. I cannot say enough about here. She is at a couple of clinics.
"I know as a multiple cancer survivor that facts speak for themselves. Mammograms that are analog pick up slow moving cancers and miss cancer in
dense breasted women."
I actually beam when I hear breast cancer news about things similiar to what I wrote in my book in 2005. I wrote the breast cancer book, Dear Auntie, Why Me?
to raise money for breast cancer through the SMDC Foundation, The Peggy and Jim Anderson Breast Cancer Fund to educate staff at the national level at
Dragon boat racing has become one of my passions. I talked to Steve Johnson, CEO of SMDC, and he asked the Rotary to raise money for breast cancer
through the dragon boat races. It turned out to be for breast health though. My passion became his as well. That's how all the dragon boat racing fundraising started. (I was
on the Survivor Sistership team from 2005-2008. I remember the first year we raised money for the Red Cross and all of the following years it has been for
breast health. I helped to start The Many Faces of Breast Cancer Teams, and we will have been in existence from 2009-2016. I am the energized bunny behind it.)
Last year I wrote the first chapter in a national dragon boat racing book called, Reaching for Life. I wrote the chapter called Hope is in Every Moment. All the
copies for the first printing were sold in 3 days. It was published a second time, and they are considering a third publication. http://www.racedragonboats.com
wrote a follow up chapter in another book years later.
I have about a 85 % cure rate for a recurrence of breast cancer according to my oncologist. I chose to not drink the red kool-aid or in other words not have chemo.
It is not for everyone, and I believe in personalized, individualized treatments based on evidence. I am a patient who is high risk for thyroid cancer due to radiation
to the neck as a baby, and I have multi-nodular goiter, one nodulal growing into the vocal cords and esophagus. No one said life would be perfect. We can always
see others with more difficult roads that they are walking. I cannot complain.
Breast cancer runs in my father's side of the family. I had a cousin die of breast cancer in her 30's. I have a sister who had breast cancer. My grandmother was
diagnosed in her 30's and died of metastatic breast cancer. (See my book for further details.)
My husband is a prostate cancer survivor. Cancer touches everyone's lives in some way or other. Jim deserves an award for supporting me 100% since 2004,
after my diagnosis. He has been out there in the community participating with all his heart since 2004."
My Cancer Affiliations:
-In 2005 I became a member of The National Breast Cancer Coalition since. We go to Washington DC each year to lobby for the National Breast Cancer
Coalition. One ask is for breast cancer research money for the major medical centers through The Department of Defense Breast Program
About 800 advocates attend each year.
-In 2007 I became a member of the American Association of Cancer Research after attending their first conference on Health Disparities. I was recommended by
a local doctor.
-In 2005 I became an ACS CAN member. I was on the Relay for Life Committee for several years, participated in the event locally and nationally in the past.
-I became a member of The San Antonio Breast Cancer Coalition in 2008 after attending the conference. I can remember writing a paper about the long term
effects of Tamoxifen that was published on an AVON CD. This morning as I lay in bed listening to the same results but with the addition of if you quit your 5 year
treatment early you will get a recurrence. I recalled my taking pages of notes and recording all of the medical lectures.
-In 2005 I became involved with The MN Breast Cancer Coalition www.mnbcc.org
and participated in The Breast Cancer Awareness Association
by attending, dropping off flyers about the event and sending out flyers, getting donations, and helping by working at registration in various years.
-I was an active participant in Women Rock from 2004 (the inception)-2012, obtaining donations for the event, having a table at the event, gathering breast cancer
educational materials to be distributed, getting volunteers and rockers and more. Over $180,000 was raised for Essentia and then St. Lukes in Duluth. This money
is used for gas and grocery cards locally.This event is through Charter Media Advertising/Charter Media (This is a a For Profit Business). The vendor money went
to Charter for advertising; other monies went to the hospitals.They would issue a check. (There was a fundraiser in Eveleth one time and then continually for St. Joseph's
Essentia in Brainerd. I do not know the details on these funds.)
-Many people know me from doing health fairs/craft shows. Others know me from being a speaker on a specific topic.
-I have been a volunteer for the MN Department of Health Sage Program for since 2005 getting volunteers for the Sage TV phone banks. This is something I do
for the MN Breast Cancer Association, ACS, and The National Breast Cancer Coalition. I also put out flyers and send out brochures. There are many women who
cannot afford a mammogram let alone treatment. We just need to find them in our communities.
-My husband and I have been community ed teachers through the University of Minnesota, Duluth, School of Pharmacy Program from 2006-2016. Each year
we have 2-5 students that we meet with through the year. They learn about our medical history, our prescriptions, make recommendations, we give them our tons
of insight as retired teachers will do, and they do a presentation at the end of the year for us as their final project. One of our very first pharmacy students is now a
pharmacist doctor at Walgreen's, and we are very proud of him. This is a great program at UMD.
-I started a fund called, Dogs Get Breast Cancer Too. It is for female puppies to get fixed before their first heat. We had a dog that got mammary cancer from not
being fixed years ago. This fund is a Duluth fund at a local vets office for those who can't afford to fix their female puppies.
-2015-1016-I am on the UMD Medical School Advisory Board, Duluth Campus.
-2014-2016-I am on the Fond du Lac Cancer Team.
-Education: Former Teacher-Ph D equivalency (didn't do the final paper). I have my Master's Degree from UMD. I have 8 teaching licenses and an administration license.
"My message is "Each Day is a Gift." My aunt gave me this cross that I have kept on my TV for years and it says: "What you are is God's gift to you.
What you make of yourself is your gift to God. " (She really liked this quote from Abbey Press.) There are wonderful people that come into my life all the
time, and I know that what we are doing here at Circle of Hope, Inc. will really help the women in most need. Really caring for others is what it is all about." As
Lao Tzu once said, " Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." Joseph Addison once said,
"Three grand essentials to happiness in life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." Henry Ward Beecher once said, "In this world it is
not what we take up but what we give up that makes us rich." I think the richness is in helping others.
If everyone has Hope, Faith, and Courage, they will ready for the next chapter in their life after a diagnosis of breast cancer.-Peggy Anderson
"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."-Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We walk by faith, not by sight.-2 Corinthians 5:7
"For everything there is a season."-Ecclesiastes 3:1
"Faith is like electricity. You can't see it but you can see the light."-Unknown
"Faith will sustain us during the toughest times in our lives."-Peggy Anderson
"Remember all things are possible for those who believe."-Gail Devers
"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge in the light."-Helen Keller
"Have faith. God's care will carry you....so you can carry others."-Dr. Robert H. Schuller
"What Faith Can Do" by Alicia Castillo and song by Kutless, found on You Tube, buy from Amazon or look for it on pinkspired.
"Through the centuries, we faced down death by daring to Hope.-Maya Angelou
"Believe that problems do have answers, that they can be overcome, and that we can solve them."-Norman Vincent Peale
"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is
there but to hope. We have two options, medically and emotionally: Give up, or fight like hell."-Lance Armstrong
"When there is Hope, all dreams are possible."-Peggy Anderson
"Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality."-LS Suenens
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think
you cannot do."-Eleanor Roosevelt
"Keep Hope in Your Heart...Hope is the thing with feathers-That perches in the soul-and sings the tune without the words.-And never stops-at all"
"He who does not hope to win has already lost."-Jose Joaquin
"Hope-is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."-Vaslav Havel
"We so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed doors, that we do not see that which has opened for us."-Alexander Graham Bell
"Hope keeps us focused, keeps us steady, and calms our fears. It is a state of mind and being. The journey may be different but with hope we
may travel a different road. It may come full circle from where we began because of our calling."-Peggy Anderson
"Life without hope has no meaning. Faith and Hope are intertwined, as we carry hope in our minds and hearts throughout our life. With hope
we do not dwell on the past but look forward toward each tomorrow. It's important to have a hopeful spirit."-Peggy Anderson
"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've brought a big bat. I'm all
ready you see. Now my trouble are going to have troubles with me."-Dr. Seuss
"No matter what the statistics say there is always a way."-Bernie Siegel
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak: Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."-Winston Churchill
"Courage is being strong, caring for your bodily vessel that houses your heart, mind and body on this earthly presence."-Peggy Anderson
"Courage is a state of mind that reveals a positive attitude. It maintains a love for others, a belief in everything that is positive, a healthy sense
of humor,a belief in the goodness of all human beings, and a love of life."-Peggy Anderson
"Our courage is being challenged in these troubled times and in these troubled waters that flood our life."-Peggy Anderson
"Cancer begins with a "C." but the dictionary has a lot of "C" words. They include Compassion, Confidence, Courage and Cuddles."-Linda Scott
Peggy Anderson Publishing Company (writer,crafts, current owner)
Former owner of the 2 year online store: The Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Store
The above website is on the book Peggy Anderson wrote called, Dear Auntie, Why Me? in 2005 to raise money for
SMDC/Duluth Clinic Foundation for the Peggy and Jim Anderson Breast Cancer Fund. This fund was to be used for
national training by staff in the oncology, radiation, and surgery departments for breast cancer treatments only. No part
of this book maybe duplicated without person of the author.This is an old commercial but it tells about the book:
-Peggy also typed The Duluth Grill's cookbook for fundraising for this same fund.
-Peggy also wrote the first chapter in a national book on dragon boat racing that has been re-printed two times. The book is
titled: Reaching for Life, Breast Cancer Survivors and the Sport of Dragon Boat Racing. Peggy wrote the chapter called
Hope is in Every Moment, did the bookmarker, Knowing Oneself. Kim Storm is also in this book. Volume 1 was pubished
by Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, Penny Behling, organizer of dragon boat races across the U.S. and Rev. Raul Fernandez-Calines,
a Presbyterian minister, and law school professor.
Featured Area Voices.
It can also be found under the regular Area Voices Blog website, and on WDAY News 6/News On Line, as well.
-This blog is called Breaking Health News.
Featured Area Voices.
It can be found under the regular Area Voices Blog website as well.
-Peggy has written poems and had them pubished in various places. The most recent is in Trail Guide-to the Northland
Experience in Prints and Poetry, 2008. (Dancing Children, Leaping Like Goats and To The Past Seasons of My Mind.)
-One poem was called Loneliness and Growing Up was selected at the World Poetry Convention and received the Golden Poet
Award in 1991.
-Duluth Budgeteer Column writer
Peggy has many other blogs as listed and not listed below including:
-Booklet Written: Pocket Folder, Symptoms & Signs of Breast Cancer & It's Recrrences in the Body by Peggy Anderson-
Written by Peggy and edited by Dr. Kwong, both were ACS ambassadors at the time.
Lily Oncology 2010: Lettuce End Breast Cancer, Button Up Breast Cancer!
I am a breast cancer survivor diagnosed in 2004. My frustration then was, "Why did I get breast cancer?" Was it what I ate or my lifestyle? Genetics? Not enough fiber, fruits and vegetables?
As a breast cancer survivor, thoughts raced through my head and are summarized by this photograph. I volunteered and donated money, but I still felt "Lettuce End Breast Cancer in My Lifetime."
When will we "Button Up Breast Cancer" as a disease? There are many kinds of buttons of research and the science keeps changing. We need to take information from each "button" and button it up!
Jim and I had two other relatives that had breast cancer. Gladys Anderson, his aunt died of metastatic or Stage IV breast cancer.
The other person who had breast cancer was his mother, Helen Anderson. She died of another cancer. This picture is from a on line website on the family.