Blog | Getting Diagnosed with Breast Cancer



Triumph over breast cancerI was diagnosed with breast cancer after a lumpectomy. I went in for my first mammogram and it showed an abnormality. After a biopsy I was diagnosed with Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia. From what I could understand, that meant that the breast tissue was rapidly dividing and was abnormal. But it is not cancer. They stressed this a lot to me. The surgeon described it like a corn field. He said that most women's breast tissue is like the Sahara Desert. But he said mine is like Iowa soil. What happens if you plant a corn kernel in both? The Iowa one will grow big and strong. He said to imagine that the corn kernel is cancer.

I was scared out of my wits. I could just imagine cancer growing and spreading. I talked to my doctor about it and she said it was very serious and I needed to take steps immediately to try to prevent cancer. I drastically changed my diet and started exercising every day. In the meantime, the surgeon wanted to do a lumpectomy to remove the area that showed up on the mammogram. After they got the lab results in, he called to tell me I already had cancer.

“Its just DCIS. This is not going to get you.” The surgeon kept saying that to me over and over again on the phone. I was hysterical. I couldn't speak. I handed the phone to my husband and ran to my bedroom. I sat on the edge of the bed, shaking, watching my husband talk to the surgeon on the phone. “He said it is going to be okay, it is Stage 0 cancer, it is not going to get you” my husband said in a calm tone, but I could see in his eyes how upset he was. It took days before I could discuss it without crying. My husband, Phil and I both poured over all the information we could find on DCIS and all breast cancer. Phil is quite the researcher. I don't know what I would have done without him reading and relating all the information to me. He researched mastectomy verses radiation therapy. He researched reconstructive surgery. He read all the statistics he could find about the chances of DCIS returning years later.

After reading and talking, and more reading and talking, I decided the best course for me was a mastectomy, as opposed to radiation therapy. I had too much family history of cancer to take any sort of chance. I just kept imagining that Iowa soil of breast tissue that I had. If cancer came back after radiation, would it grow so fast that I wouldn't catch it soon enough next time? Something amazing happened when I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy: peace. I was calm and in control now. Now I was making the decisions and I was deciding what was going to happen to me. Cancer takes that control away, and I was taking it back. I felt inner strength. I felt like I was more than strong enough to get through this. In fact, I made the choice to be a positive influence on others. I was going to find the positive in my story and run with it. More on that aspect of my story later though.

It has been a little over a month now since my mastectomy, and I feel great. I don't like the way my body looks now, I wont lie. But to be honest I was never proud of my body. But I am proud of my decisions and how I coped. I had the support of a wonderful husband. I had the support of a loving family. I had the support of friends, new and old, that were there just to hug me and say they were thinking of me.

So my advice to anyone about to start their breast cancer treatment? Reach out to others. Listen to their stories. Tell your story. Get involved. Stay busy. Read interesting books. Listen to upbeat music. Dance. Sing. Live.

Leslie Notarianni
Pink Pepper Co 

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  • Katrina Tyler on

    I was diagnosed with Estrogen Receptor Cancer in June. I had a double mastectomy is August & my Flap Reconstruction is October 28th.

    I’m blessed that I do not have to have chemo, radiation or the cancer pill.

    My father had heart mitral valve surgery years ago & when he went home, he was given a heart shaped pillow to help him ride in the car & have his chest protected from the seat belt.

    I told my surgeon this and asked my surgeon if I would get a pillow to help me while I’m in the car. A blank came over her face.

    I used a bed pillow at first then have tried sofa pillows which work, but are bulky.

    So I started looking on line and found your pillow. I had seen it before my surgery and SO wish I had ordered it then.

    On Amazon, they have heart shaped pillow, but knowing what I know now, the pillow you make is far superior because it covers under the arms also. I had two lymph nodes removed so that will be a lot more comfortable for that area also!

    I would suggest trying to get in with Susan G Komen, Breast Cancer detection facilities, Breast Cancer Plastic Surgeons.

    I sincerely hope you can get your product more widely known. If I can help in any way, please email me. I will definitely show it to my Plastic Surgeon and my local Susan G Komen organization


    My husband found my lump the day before Christmas Eve 2016. I didn’t get into to see my Dr. until the following Thursday. My Dr. ordered an unltra sound and Mammogram right away. I had to wait for the biopsy because New Year’s was that weekend and Pathology didn’t want me to wait that long to get the results back. I went in Jan. 3rd 2017 for a biopsy and was diagnosed with IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma) on Jan. 4th. I was 34 and have no history of breast cancer in my family. I had HER2+ and hormone negative. I had chemo first and then surgery (double mastectomy with reconstruction). I was googling mastectomy pillows and your site came up. I ordered the mastectomy pillow and loved it.


    Went in May 6, double mastectomy. Surgery was 2+ hours, recovery was 4+ hours! After my daughter did research found out I was having a severe allergic reaction to pain meds! I’m home now recouping with a fabulous pillow and shirt that is super comfy. Prayers to all who travel this journey!

  • Donna on

    Found a knot knew it was cancer. I’m the 4th generation victim. I say victim because cancer victimizes you! I am stage 2 Triple negative 3cm. I have chosen DBL mastectomy which is scheduled May 6, 2019! I just called surgeon May 1st! Will tell story later I take care of my semi invalid 83 yo mom!

  • Stefanie Bowen on

    After a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with DCIS in my left breast. Hats off to my amazing radiologist for catching it because the area was only 3mm in size. Within 3 weeks of my diagnosis, I met with my surgeon (twice), my plastic surgeon, the oncologist, the radiologist and a genetic specialist. I was waiting to tell my boys until after college midterms so I used my time to research. No one knew my situation, but my husband and myself. Like many of you my mother’s side of the family is riddled with different diagnosis. I lost one of my sister’s to colon cancer when she was only 34! The DCIS diagnosis is confusing because my doctors kept saying “it’s cancer, not cancer”. I was getting so pissed off (sorry for the honest language) because my choices did not feel like “not cancer”. I finally looked at the Oncology Radiologist after hearing this comment for the 20th time and said …“if my children are filling out a health form what do they check for mother’s health? He responded, they check cancer”. I said, “ok, so I have cancer, let’s move on”. I understood my diagnosis, I was just trying to make a decision on how to proceed. I live in a very small community (less than 60,000 people) but we are blessed to have a world renown Genetic Center in our community. My genetic testing came back with a marker for the ATM gene. The irony is that the genetic marker came from my father’s side NOT my mother’s side. My father’s family really has no occurrence of cancer. This gene is not as well known, but it did increase my chances for recurrence. Long story short I decided to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I felt at peace once I made my decision. I am almost 4 weeks post surgery and I would beat down anyone who tried to take my pillow away. I just ordered one for a friend who is having a similar surgery. Love to all!!

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