Happy 48th Birthday!
by Chari Marron
Mt. Clemens, Michigan

On June 30, 1999, my 48th birthday, I was having a biopsy done on my right breast. My husband was with me, and we knew it wasn’t good by the way they hurried us to a cancer clinic. At the clinic, the procedure is to see an oncologist, a radiologist, a surgeon, and so on. However, we just got started with a couple doctors when we were sent for tests. Upon our return, the person in charge was running around trying to set up more tests for me. She explained to another doctor that she wanted me to be seen by one more doctor. When he asked why, she said to him, “It’s INFLAMMATORY (breast cancer)!” Inflammatory? My husband and I just looked at each other like, “What in the world is going on?” We went directly to a bookstore and looked it up in Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book. What little she had to say about it was very upsetting. We both sank a little and cried a little.

About two weeks later, after one more biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, I started chemo (six rounds of CAF). I had a modified radical mastectomy December 22, 1999; thirty-two nodes were removed, and nine of them showed signs of cancer. I had high dose chemo/stem cell rescue in the spring of 2000. My blood counts returned to normal rapidly. This was all followed by thirty-five radiation treatments. Near the end of my entire treatment, my daughter got married. I had no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and I could hardly wear a prosthesis because of all the radiation, but it was a very nice wedding….and I was just happy to be there!!

My dear, sweet husband and so many other people were with me every step of the way. July 30, 2001, we went to my six month checkup after having CT scans. We got the “all clear!!” Yes, I celebrated my FIFTIETH birthday this June, and I am pleased to say that all is good, and I feel just fine.

October 13, 2001, on Belle Isle in Detroit, there will be a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. I will carry the IBC Research Foundation Warrior/Pathfinder Parasol. I will pass out IBC RF brochures to everyone possible. I hope to hear from other IBC RF members who might be walking in this event as well. I am wondering if IBC isn’t more widespread, but because of the many misdiagnoses, we just don’t know about all the cases. I am so glad for the IBC Research Foundation web site and list. I surely don’t feel so all alone! I have shared my story in hope of helping someone else because so many have helped me!!!

Life throws at us all kinds of situations. We just have to go with the flow and be thankful for what we do have and appreciate all the beautiful things in life. Bad and good happen to everyone. Many of us have had a loved one die….and celebrated the wedding of a daughter or a son. All of us need to continue to hang in there together, and we’ll get through it!!!

Story Submitted 2001