Tag Archives: Breast

Harry Connick Jr. and Wife Jill Goodacre Open Up About Her Secret 5-Year Battle with Breast Cancer

[brightcove:5522509904001 default]

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Five years ago, Harry Connick Jr.‘s world changed forever.

In October 2012, the multiplatinum recording artist, host of the daytime talk show Harry and actor’s wife, Jill Goodacre, had a routine annual mammogram that came back clear.

“They said, ‘Okay, looks good. Since you have dense breasts, just go across the hall for your sonogram,’ ” Goodacre, 53, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. But during the sonogram, something was detected. After undergoing a biopsy, Goodacre received the harrowing news — during breast cancer awareness month — that she had Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma and would need to immediately undergo a lumpectomy, followed by radiation.

“I was scared I was going to lose her, absolutely,” says Connick Jr., 50, whose mother died of ovarian cancer when he was 13. “I wasn’t going to let her see that, but I was. I know from losing my mom that the worst can happen. She’s my best friend, and I really don’t know what I would do without her.”

For Goodacre, one of the hardest parts of her cancer battle was telling the couple’s three daughters — Georgia, 21, Sara Kate (who goes by Kate), 20, and Charlotte, 15 — about the diagnosis. “It broke my heart,” she shares.

Although the mother of three did not have to undergo chemotherapy, her treatment has been grueling.

“The lumpectomy didn’t come back with clean margins,” she explains. Pathology tests showed she also had extensive ductal carcinoma in situ, a less invasive form of the disease. “So I had to go in for a second surgery the very next day. And then radiation absolutely wiped me out. And since then there’s been the Tamoxifen, which I’ve now been taking for five years.”

Tamoxifen, an estrogen modulator taken in pill form that helps prevent the development of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, can have difficult side effects, including weight gain, which Goodacre — a former Victoria’s Secret model — has admittedly struggled with.

“I’ve always been a pretty fit person, and so to be just rounder and heavier and not to really be able to do much about it — that’s been hard. It’s taken a lot out of my self-confidence,” she says.

“It’s a part of how the cancer and the treatment impacted her, and it was a real issue, even though she will always be the most beautiful woman in the world,” adds Connick Jr.

Now, as she approaches the five-year mark of remission, Goodacre is looking forward to stopping Tamoxifen soon and preparing to tell the world what few outside her family knew.

“It wasn’t like we were superstitious, like if we said something about being in the clear we’d somehow jinx it,” Goodacre says. “But we wanted to be well on the other side of things before we told everybody. The doctors all say that after the five-year mark, things look optimistic, so we’re starting to feel pretty good.”

“It’s not something that’s just going to go away like it never happened,” adds Goodacre. “I’ll always be a little nervous, always having to get checked, always hoping it doesn’t come back.”

On Thursday’s episode of Harry, the couple will candidly discuss her cancer journey and the day she was diagnosed — “It’s one of the hardest days of my life,” she recalls — in a heart-to-heart discussion.

“All I wanted to do was grow old with you and have as many years as possible as I could with you,” Connick Jr. tells Goodacre in a PEOPLE exclusive sneak peek of the interview.

Goodacre tells him, “You always used to say that: ‘I just want to grow old with you.’ ”

“It’s true,” Connick Jr. says. “I wanted to know what you would look like older. … I made the right decision.”

Harry airs weekdays (check local listings or visit Harrytv.com).

www.health.com/syndication/harry-connick-jr-wife-jill-goodacre-open-up-secret-5-year-battle-breast-cancer “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Facts of Life Star Mindy Cohn Poses Topless with Friends for Breast Cancer Awareness

[brightcove:5522509904001 default]

This article originally appeared on People.com.

It’s a striking photo.

Mindy Cohn and four friends stand topless in a pool, their hands covering their breasts. It’s a nod to Breast Cancer Awareness Month — and also an acknowledgement that Cohn herself waged a five-year battle against the disease.

The women — Madeline Hayes, Lulu Johnson (Betsey Johnson’s daughter), Neda Soderqvist and Lynn De Logi — come from different walks of life but were part of Cohn’s “gaggle of girls” who were always present during Cohn’s health crisis.

For Cohn, 51, the picture is a reminder of her blessings in life. “I have so many friends who supported me during the siege,” she tells PEOPLE. “They’re people who I consider my family by choice. They were always there for me.”

Cohn is sure to acknowledge that her parents were also there for her. “They’re still alive and kicking, and I love them so much,” she says. “They’d do anything for me, and I’m just so fortunate to have them. And then I also have other people who were with me when I needed them.”

Lately, she has started working with her friend and celebrity trainer Neda Soderqvist, who developed JAM — short for Juicy Athletic Moves — a fitness program that incorporates dance, pilates and strength training. (We’ve got to say, Cohn has moves. See the above video.)

Cohn previously told PEOPLE about recovering at the Sharon Springs, New York, home of her friends Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge, lifestyle gurus, best known for their reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys. 

“I’m not married,” she acknowledges, “I don’t have a husband — and for the record, I’d be happy to find a husband — but I’m not alone. I’ve got so many people who I love to spend time with. I can be strong for them, and I can ask them for help when I need it. I am almost overwhelmed with how many people I’ve got in my life.”

So who are the friends who stand out as being supportive?

“Oh my God, there are so many to list,” she says. “Obviously, Helen Hunt was there for me — I texted her when I couldn’t take another step. Definitely Kim [Fields], who is my soul sister. Lauren Sill, Michael Patrick King, Jenny Bicks. So many people stepped up for me.”

For Cohn, having the cancer made it clear that she has friends in her life for the long haul. “Having cancer was horrible, and I lived in a lot of sadness for a lot of the time,” she says. “But the people in my life helped me through it, and I’ll always be grateful.”

For more about Cohn’s battle, pick up the latest copy of PEOPLE, on stands now.

www.health.com/syndication/facts-of-life-star-mindy-cohn-poses-topless-with-friends-for-breast-cancer-awareness “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Breast Cancer Survivor Sheryl Crow Writes a Heartfelt Message to Women: ‘Stop Making Excuses’ and Get Checked

[brightcove:5522487361001 default]

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Sheryl Crow is a Grammy Award-winning musician and breast cancer survivor who is passionate about spreading the message of early detection. She is the spokesperson for Hologic’s Genius 3D Mammography exam.

The very first National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was observed in 1985 when the American Cancer Society and a pharmaceutical company partnered to create a campaign that would promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer. Thirty-two years later, the observance permeates nearly every aspect of our culture during the month of October. From NFL players lacing up pink cleats and major beauty and fashion brands offering limited edition products in partnership with breast cancer charities, to community walks and runs taking place throughout the month in nearly every city across the country — it seems as though the entire country turns pink at a level that only increases each passing year. It’s no wonder that by now, many of us have become somewhat desensitized to the pink deluge, while others are guilty of tuning out entirely.

That “pink fatigue” is the reason that it is so critical that people like me, a breast cancer survivor who happens to also be a public figure, use our voices to remind women that the core message of BCAM is one that none of us can afford to tune out. Just as it was true in 1985, it remains true today that mammography is the very best tool we have in the fight against breast cancer.  Fortunately, today’s breast cancer screening technology has advanced tremendously since 1985, and since I was diagnosed with cancer more than 11 years ago. Now, we have access to more accurate mammograms, such as the Genius 3D Mammography exam, that detects more invasive cancers, reduces false positives and is clinically proven as superior for women of all ages – even those with dense breasts compared to traditional 2D mammography.

Despite these advancements, and routinely being bombarded with pink throughout the month of October, so many women still avoid scheduling their annual mammograms, for a number of reasons. Whether it’s fear of finding out they have cancer, or a misconception that a mammogram isn’t the right type of screening for their breast type – excuses abound and many of them come from a place of fear or misinformation. In fact, a recent survey found that fear of physical discomfort is the number one cited reason that women across the country have never had a mammogram. 

RELATED VIDEO: Sheryl Crow Talks Breast Cancer Prevention

I consider it my responsibility, as someone who credits surviving breast cancer to early detection and my commitment to getting my annual screening, to tell every woman I meet she needs to stop making excuses and schedule her exam. We can no longer say we are fearful of pain or discomfort – that issue has been resolved with the new SmartCurve system which features a curved compression surface that mirrors the shape of a woman’s breast to reduce pinching. We can no longer say we don’t have time for an inaccurate exam to cause us to have a false positive and come back for additional screenings. And finally, we can no longer say that because we have dense breasts, mammograms aren’t able to detect breast cancer for us.

Most importantly, we need to fight the pink fatigue this year during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and remind one another that each of us can play a significant role in the fight against breast cancer by simply taking the time to schedule our mammograms.

www.health.com/syndication/breast-cancer-survivor-sheryl-crow-writes-a-heartfelt-message-to-women-stop-making-excuses-and-get-checked “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

4 Women on What Brought Them Comfort During Breast Cancer Treatment

[brightcove:5522487361001 default]

Coping with breast cancer treatment isn’t easy, no matter how many casseroles appear on the doorstep, or how often the neighbors pick up the kids from school. Breast cancer patients face a roller-coaster of emotions, ranging from fear and loss to courage and gratitude.

To get through it, women often draw strength from supportive family and friends, and thoughtful texts, emails, and gifts. But sometimes a keepsake or another special object provides a dose of much-needed comfort. We asked four women who have been through treatment to share what that special item was for them.

RELATED: What Not to Say to Someone With Breast Cancer

My grandmother’s wedding ring

"I was diagnosed three days after turning 44. My grandmother died of metastatic breast cancer but never complained. Her name was Sallie Minter, and she was my best friend. The day of my ultrasound where doctors saw my tumor for the first time, I told the ultrasound tech about Grandma and my fear of cancer. I nearly had a panic attack, but I wore her wedding ring to chemo, and it made me feel like she was with me. Even though she passed, I thought if she could go through this, I could too, even if I died. Her ring was such a comfort."
Andrea, 46, Raymore, Missouri

A very durable Dammit Doll

"I was diagnosed when I was 48, and my mom gave me a Dammit Doll when I first began treatment. Knowing me as she does, she understood I would likely get pretty frustrated with the cancer experience. She was right! While I experienced every emotion that exists at some point in these past five years, the Dammit Doll works for most of them! It’s built to withstand some smacking, and that’s what you are supposed to do with it. When I get frustrated, I grab the doll and smack it on something, as many times as needed. Learning to channel my anger about cancer has been my biggest lesson. It helps me because it reminds me that while yes, cancer is awful, you have to laugh. It also reminds me I have a great mom, which then leads me to focusing on how fortunate I am despite the diagnosis. Mom knew what was coming, and she gave me what she could—something that made me laugh even while I was smacking it around like crazy. Mom knows best."
–April, 53, Foley, Alabama

RELATED: 5 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

A pair of sparkly stilettos

"What is it about putting on a pair of stilettos that makes you feel so wow? Cancer can take a lot, but not my sparkle. Wearing these shoes to my mastectomy gave me attitude, and I wanted as much attitude as I could get. I think about how when you go for your prom dress, wedding gown, or any party attire, the shoes make the outfit. Hospital gowns need some bling for sure. Everyone would walk in and stop and smile. I was dubbed “the diva in heels,” and I was completely fine with that. Sometimes those stilettos sat at the end of the bed because I physically could not put them on. The pain, the medication, the surgery were all taking over. But they were never far from reach, always there to remind me that there was strength in a shoe, in me. I wanted to be reminded that somehow I was going to still be able to walk in those again, even if at that moment I could not."
–AnnMarie, 45, Syracuse, New York (Check out AnnMarie's blog, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer, here.)

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

My 'What Cancer Cannot Do' bracelet, and my tattoo

"I was diagnosed in May 2013, at the age of 51. I had a lumpectomy, lymph node removal, radiation, and chemo. I now have swelling in my right arm and hand from the lymph node removal.

I have always been fascinated with tattoos, but I did not have one when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I was diagnosed, I promised myself that when I was finished with treatment, I'd get one. At that time, I didn't know how much it would help me through the scary times. When I am feeling fearful about anything breast cancer-related, I will place my left hand over the tattoo (it's on my left side ribs) and breathe deeply. It may sound silly, but I do draw strength from it.

I also draw strength from a bracelet given to me by the daughter of a friend who passed away from stage 4 breast cancer. The bracelet says: "What Cancer Cannot Do – It Cannot Cripple Love – It Cannot Shatter Hope – It Cannot Corrode Faith – It Cannot Eat Away Peace – It Cannot Destroy Confidence – It Cannot Kill Friendship – It Cannot Shut Out Memories – It Cannot Silence Courage – It Cannot Reduce Eternal Life – It Cannot Quench the Spirit." I wear the bracelet when I need extra strength, like when going through a biopsy, scan, labs…anything that I'm fearing. I also wear the bracelet to honor my friend on her birthday and the anniversary of her death."
–Mary, 53, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

www.health.com/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-treatment-comfort “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Elizabeth Hurley opens up about her fight to end breast cancer: 'Breast cancer doesn't discriminate'

Elizabeth Hurley opens up about her fight to end breast cancer: 'Breast cancer doesn't discriminate'Elizabeth Hurley is opening up about her decades-long mission to find a cure for breast cancer.

Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

I Had No Clue Men Could Get Breast Cancer—Until I Was Diagnosed

[brightcove:5522487361001 default]

In 2013, I had a CT scan after seeing a couple of specialists about a dry cough. When I went back to the doctor’s office for the results, the cough was gone, so I figured there wasn’t much to say. I stood up to leave, and the doctor told me to sit down. “You don’t hear a doctor say this often,” he told me. “You have a lump in your right breast. We can watch it for six months.”

I looked at him like a deer in headlights. “What are we watching for?” That’s how naive I was. He told me it could be malignant. “Malignant—like cancer?”

“Yes, men get breast cancer,” he said. I had no clue. I had never heard of that in my life.

Only one man in 1,000 will get breast cancer in his lifetime. So I figured I had at least a 99% chance that it wasn’t cancer! Still, I didn’t want to wait six months. I knew I couldn’t be at peace knowing cancer was a possibility. I chatted with my primary care doctor, also a good friend, who said he wouldn’t be too concerned, but that if I was concerned we should do a biopsy. The biopsy came back malignant.

RELATED: 8 Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer in Men

I live not far from Houston, so I went to MD Anderson [Cancer Center] for care. I figured since male breast cancer is rare, I wanted to be treated at a place that dealt with cancer all the time. They did genetic testing that showed I did not have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, which increase breast cancer risk.

My mother had breast cancer, but because I was negative for those mutations, the doctors thought my DNA just decided to go haywire. Another test showed I only had about an 8% chance of recurrence. But there aren’t many treatment options for men other than mastectomy, since we don’t have much breast tissue. 

My wife was very concerned—like any wife would be, I think—but she was making nervous chatter when we talked to my surgeon. She blurted out, “Well, my husband’s talked about reconstruction, but he can’t decide if he wants to be a big B or a small C!” She never says stuff like that! We had a good laugh about that. We maintained that sense of levity; we knew we still needed to be looking at things from a positive perspective.

The mastectomy and recovery went well, and afterward I took tamoxifen, a type of hormone therapy that lowers the chance of breast cancer recurrence. (At least it does in women—I'm being treated with medicine that's only been tested in women). I didn’t need any radiation or chemotherapy, so I called myself “one and done” and thought that was the end of it.

But in August 2015, I had a chance to appear in a male breast cancer documentary. I was asked to take off my shirt and show what I looked like as a man with a mastectomy scar. I put my hand on the scar, and my fingertips touched a lump. I froze inside. I managed to keep my facial expression benign, but it went right to my head. Am I less afraid or more afraid, given that I know more than I did two years ago?

I went back to my care team, and I needed surgery again. It tore me up that I had to tell my wife, my daughters, and my grandkids that I had cancer again. They lived through it the first time with me, so it was gut-wrenching. Because the tamoxifen probably didn’t do the job for me, I did 33 days of radiation therapy. I finished radiation in December 2015.

I have been the recipient of a pretty life-changing diagnosis, but I’ve decided that I’m going to help other people because of it. I started volunteering on committees at MD Anderson to improve the patient experience, and I have written MD Anderson blogs about my story. 

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter

Every three to six months I have a follow-up appointment or scan. I’m also taking another drug, a type of hormone-suppressing medication called an aromatase inhibitor. I’m tolerating the side effects; the alternative, not taking it, would increase my chances of recurrence.

About 460 men die each year from breast cancer in the U.S. because it’s detected late. Maybe they find a lump and ignore it because they don’t know they can get breast cancer. I didn’t know a man could get breast cancer. I was so totally unaware. I’ve talked to guys who waited years to discuss a lump because it made them feel like they were less of a man, it was a female disease. That machismo irritates me.

Sometimes you can’t be cured, but you can always be healed. There’s a difference. Sometimes it’s not going to be okay. All I’m looking for is to have another day to work, to be with my family, and to spread awareness.

www.health.com/breast-cancer/ronnie-pace-male-breast-cancer “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

What to Do After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, According to Women Who Have Been There

[brightcove:5522509904001 default]

There’s no “right” way to react to hearing the words “you have breast cancer.” Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis might make one woman scream or burst into tears while leaving another feeling speechless and numb. Those four words are life-changing, and we all process this kind of news differently.

But it’s probably safe to bet that anyone facing a breast cancer diagnosis is going to have some questions, whether it’s “What are my treatment options?” or “Why me?”

If you've recently been diagnosed with the disease, you'll get answers to many of those questions from your doctors in the coming days and weeks. But how do you wrap your head around the situation so you can make smart choices for your health? We asked eight breast cancer survivors to share their very best advice on what to do in those first few hours and days after a diagnosis—and how to move forward.

RELATED: 14 Things Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer Want You to Know

Cry and scream

“Cry, scream, have a short-lived pity party, decide you are a victor and not a victim, find your voice, them pick yourself up from the floor, find a support group and attend, and see a counselor for as long as it takes to help you sort through everything you don’t realize you are feeling.”
—Michelle, 50, Grand Prairie, Texas; diagnosed in 2012

Remember to breathe

“When I was diagnosed, I felt the weight of the world on my chest. It’s such a whirlwind; for me, it was complete shock. I just kept repeating to myself all evening, ‘Just breathe!’ Do what’s best for you and let others help—and just breathe!”
—Laura, 35, Stanley, Virginia; diagnosed in 2010

Slow down

“I felt like my world was collapsing around me when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Everyone tries to help, but receiving advice from so many people actually added to my anxiety levels. I wish I took some time just for myself and let the world slow down. There are a number of [treatment] options available, and you need to calm yourself to understand your possibilities. I wish I knew how to meditate back then, because it would have been useful!”
—Melissa Mae Palmer, 44, Barrington, Illinois; author of My Secrets of Survivorship; diagnosed in 2013

List your questions

“Write questions down before [your next] appointments so you don’t forget. You’ll get hit with a lot, and it can be so overwhelming that you can’t remember what you wanted to discuss.”
—Danni, 32, Salt Lake City, Utah; diagnosed in 2016

Take notes

“Record every doctor’s appointment until you get your bearings, or take someone with you to appointments to write everything down. You won’t remember anything beyond ‘it’s cancer’ in the first few weeks.”
—Chris, 52, Florence, Kentucky; diagnosed stage 2 in 1994, stage 4 in 2002

Get organized

“I got a small divided file box and kept copies of everything—every pathology report, referral, doctor’s note. It’s a lot thrown at you all at once, and sometimes you want to be able to go back later and read this stuff. This way, you’ll have it all. It’s a lot of information, but try not to panic. You can get through it!”
—Jennifer, 43, Rhode Island; diagnosed in 2013

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter

Stay in touch

“I strongly suggest creating a page on CaringBridge.org [a nonprofit organization that hosts free websites for people dealing with health issues]. Instead of making phone calls after each appointment, I entered any updates of my condition on my page. It was a lifesaver. Family and friends all agreed it worked great to keep everyone informed without repeating conversations, forgetting to tell someone, or getting things confused any more than they already are.”
—Peggy, 66, Baxter, Iowa; diagnosed in 2014

Focus on the basics

"I had just received my MRI results, which showed that my breast cancer was much more extensive than the physicians initially thought. I sent my friend and mentor, Paul, a text that just said, 'I have breast cancer.' By the time I lifted my finger from the send button, he was already calling me back. In a tone both compassionate and authoritative, he said to me, 'I want to give you five rules. Rule 1: Stay positive. Rule 2: Stay off the internet. Rule 3: Eat a healthy diet. Rule 4: Get exercise, even if it is just walking around the block. Rule 5: Get plenty of sleep.' A cancer diagnosis makes it difficult to absorb information; we suddenly feel the weight of the world on our shoulders and acute fears of mortality. Paul's advice removed some of that weight by giving me a simple framework to continue moving forward during a very stressful moment. He did not add another decision I had to make or another stressor. His advice at its core was to streamline life and to add an element of predictability to balance the chaos by focusing on the basics."
Melissa Thompson, 34, Stamford, Connecticut; diagnosed in 2015

And whatever you do…

—Vicki, 39, Decatur, Alabama; diagnosed in 2012

www.health.com/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-diagnosis-advice “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

 The Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer, From Women Who Experienced Them

[brightcove:5522487361001 default]

These days, a monthly breast self-exam is considered optional. But still, doctors urge their patients to become familiar with how their breasts normally feel (say, by massaging them in the shower on a regular basis) so they can detect any changes. The fact is, about 40% of women with breast cancer discover their tumors themselves.

“I teach patients common sense rules. They’re your breasts and you have two hands, you should get to know them,” says Julia White, MD, director of breast radiation oncology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. “If you know your breasts and notice something is out of the ordinary and it persists, then go get it checked out."

And she's not just talking about a lump or a mass in your breast. You should also look for crusting at the nipple, or bloody nipple drainage, says Dr. White, especially if it's just one side. Other symptoms include a change in the shape of your breast that’s not explainable by your period, pregnancy, or nursing; a retracted or flattened nipple; an indentation in your breast that doesn't go away after you take off your bra; persistent pain on one side; skin that changes color rapidly; and a lump in your armpit.

Here, nine women who have had breast cancer share the symptoms that led them to a doctor's office, and ultimately a diagnosis. They all have one message: trust your gut, and get anything suspicious checked out. These are their stories.

RELATED: 25 Breast Cancer Myths Busted

I noticed what felt like a frozen pea in my armpit

“During a routine breast self-exam, I felt a really tiny lump. It didn’t hurt, but it was mobile and felt like a frozen pea. It was right inside my armpit, which seemed odd at first, but I remembered that your breast tissue actually extends into your armpit. This didn’t feel consistent with the breast changes that came along with my menstrual cycle.

"I actually kept quite calm, even though in my gut, I knew what was going on. So I called my ob-gyn, who offered to take a look during my next annual exam, which was months away. After nothing changed in a week, I called the breast center at my local hospital and demanded to be seen. After imaging and biopsies, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24.

"From my experience, I hope that other women will learn that you need to monitor changes in your body, but it’s futile if you’re afraid to speak up about them. Women need to have the confidence to speak up.”

—Brittany Whitman, Cleveland Education Ambassador for Bright Pink

I had fevers and difficulty breastfeeding

“I was misdiagnosed with mastitis twice because I had high fevers and trouble breastfeeding. It turned out to be cancer. Tumors were blocking the milk ducts. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 32, five weeks after I had my first child. It didn’t look like mastitis at all. So many people told me “100% chance” it is nothing. No one thought of any alternative, however, until multiple courses of [mastitis] treatment failed.” 

—Melissa Thompson, healthcare policy advocate, Stamford, Connecticut (You can read more of her story here.)

My breast looked a little pink

“In the shower one day, I noticed a pale pinkness on my breast just below my nipple area, which looked more like a mild sunburn than a rash. I knew something was off. I had my ob-gyn take a look, and he said he wasn’t concerned at all because it was barely noticeable. He suggested my bra fit too snugly, and I needed to go shopping for new bras. So I did just that.

"Over time, that pink area hardened slightly and was sore to the touch. My ob-gyn again said he wasn’t concerned. Eventually the pain increased behind my breast in my back. My ob-gyn said that breast cancer does not hurt, so I didn’t need to worry about it. He ordered a mammogram to put my mind at ease. The mammogram and all other tests came back normal.

"Weeks went by and my lower back began to hurt. Eventually, after my GP suggested I had arthritis and I went to physical therapy. I went to see a breast specialist. He told me I had mastitis and gave me antibiotics. That didn’t help. Back at the breast surgeon, he sent a picture of my breast to the top surgeon who ordered a diagnostic mammogram, which includes a sonogram and a biopsy. I was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer in my breast, bones, and liver.

“Women know their bodies best. If you see or feel something different, something is wrong. You must be your own advocate. I knew something was wrong and I knew it was getting worse, but the doctors were all telling me not to worry, so I ignored my gut feeling. Mine took 11 months to diagnose, which allowed it to spread to my bones and liver. Today, my cancer is incurable.”

—Jennifer Cordts, Dallas

To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the HEALTHY LIVING newsletter

There was a marble in my breast

“I had fibrous breasts, so even on a good day, my breasts felt like a bag of frozen peas. I had been receiving Bright Pink’s Breast Health reminder texts to check my breasts, so I was pretty familiar with how my breasts felt. However one day I felt a lump in my left breast near my nipple, which seemed to be the size of a marble or gumball. This lump felt different. It was hard, but had a bit of a give to it.

"From the moment I felt the lump, I knew I had breast cancer. I went in that day for an appointment with my gynecologist, who ordered a mammogram for later that afternoon. After that, I had a core needle biopsy, but the tests all came back negative. I never felt relieved or satisfied with that result.

"At a later breast check, I felt the lump had grown, so I insisted my gynecologist help me find a surgeon to remove the lump. It was removed and I was told it was stage 2, aggressive triple negative breast cancer. I also discovered I was BRCA-1 positive, meaning I had the breast cancer gene. I can’t stress it enough, listen to your body!”

—Erin Scheithe, DC Education Ambassador for Bright Pink, Washington, D.C.

I found a lump

“I first felt my lump when I was getting dressed. I waited several weeks until after my next period to see if there were any changes in size. When that wasn’t the case, I scheduled my annual mammogram. Given that my mom passed away from cancer in 1997, I had my first mammogram at age 35. The radiologist compared my mammograms and noticed a change in my right breast. The biopsy revealed the presence of pre-cancerous cells (stage zero). She ordered an MRI, which showed other areas of concern. After more biopsies, I was diagnosed with triple positive stage 1 invasive breast cancer at the age of 37. With chemotherapy, radiation, and numerous surgeries, I’ve been cancer-free for six years.”

—Stef Woods, Professorial Lecturer at American University, Washington, D.C.

RELATED: The 5 Breast Cancer Stages, Explained

My dog found my cancer

“I had just been to the ob-gyn for my annual check-up and breast exam, and got the 'all okay.' Soon after, my little dog Zoe climbed up on me and started pawing at a specific part of my breast. Little alarms went off in my head, telling me to pay attention. It was like a slow-motion movie. I pushed her off and that’s when I found a little round BB-sized lump. After a mammogram that didn’t show anything, and a sonogram that found the lump, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. It’s so important to listen to the messages our bodies are telling us.”

—Christine Egan, author of The Healthy Girl’s Guide to Breast Cancer, Bayport, New York

I felt something like a hard, round piece of cheese

“After a shower one night, I did a self-breast check. I felt something like a round, hard piece of cheese about the size of a quarter. I had just had a mammogram six months earlier. I felt healthy, biked all the time, and wouldn’t have guessed that something wasn’t right in my body. But I didn’t wait to see what was going on. I went to the doctor immediately and was referred for an ultrasound and needle biopsy. I was diagnosed at age 46 with stage 3 breast cancer, and soon after had a mastectomy. I would never recommend to anyone to 'wait and see.' While it was a very scary realization, you’re only saving yourself if you take care of it aggressively.”

—Sandy Hanshaw, founder of Bike for Boobs, San Diego

RELATED: You Found a Lump in Your Breast. Now What?

I felt a pea on my ribs

“I had done monthly self-breast exams since I was in my early 20s. I felt a tiny hard little bump the size of a small pea. I could only feel it because it was over my rib at the bottom of my left breast. In retrospect, my bra may have hurt a little in that area before I found the lump. I have had many lumps, bumps, and cysts biopsied, but this pea was definitely different. I scheduled my annual mammogram along with a biopsy. I received the breast cancer diagnosis within a week, just shy of my 55th birthday. Turns out, there was another in the other breast that didn’t show up on a mammogram. I also discovered I was a BRCA 1 mutation carrier. I needed aggressive chemo followed by a double mastectomy. Had I not done the exam that evening, everything would be quite different.”

—Cynthia Bailey, MD, president and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology, Inc., Sebastopol, California

My nipple inverted

“Back in October 2015, I felt something lump-ish and hard in my right breast. I went for a mammogram and received a clean bill of health. Sadly, I was happy to accept the diagnosis I wanted to hear. By the spring, I knew something was wrong. My breast actually shrank and the nipple inverted, a classic sign of breast cancer, though I didn’t know it. When that happened, I knew I had to do something. My primary care physician examined me and told me I needed to go for a test. I remember clearly pulling out my datebook and suggesting next week. She sternly shook her head and said I had to go to that afternoon. I was diagnosed as early stage 3 cancer. The big lesson I learned was, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I tend to keep my issues to myself, but cancer is not something you can solve on your own. Talk to professionals and avoid the internet! Get real advice.”

—Gerri Willis, FOX Business Network anchor, New York, New York

www.health.com/breast-cancer/early-symptoms-breast-cancer “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Facts of Life Star Mindy Cohn Reveals Five-Year Battle with Breast Cancer

[brightcove:5522487361001 default]

This article originally appeared on People.com.

One morning in 2012, Mindy Cohn’s life changed forever.

“I was walking around my neighborhood in Los Angeles and I suddenly got so tired,” says the actress best known for playing Natalie Green in the ’80s sitcom The Facts of Life. “I just couldn’t go anymore. This was before Uber was really a thing, so I texted my friend Helen Hunt and said, ‘Something’s wrong with me. I need help.’”

Cohn went to the doctor, and a scan showed something in her breast. Before she knew it, she was being biopsied. The news was devastating. “It was breast cancer,” she tells PEOPLE. “I kept that secret for a long time.”

For the next five years, Cohn, now 51, underwent what she now calls a “siege.” She ultimately underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

Before the diagnosis, Cohn had always been the rock-steady center of her circle of friends. The five-year ordeal drained her, however. “I’ve always been an optimist,” she says. “But the cancer metastasized. It kept spreading and coming back. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and then it would. And then I’d wait for another shoe to drop, and it would. I was frustrated and enraged. I couldn’t control any of this. I couldn’t fix it.”

Cohn had always kept busy since doing The Facts of Life (In addition to multiple on-camera roles, she did the voice of Velma on the rebooted What’s New, Scooby-Doo for more than a decade), After her diagnosis, she stepped away from Hollywood to recuperate.

Cohn found refuge with her close friends, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge, lifestyle gurus best known for their reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys. There, on their 60-acre farm outside Sharon Springs, NY, she found a peaceful place to battle the disease and recover. “They are my family,” she says. “I have my parents, who have always been there for me. And then I have my family by choice, which includes them. We’ll be in each others’ lives forever.”

Today, Cohn is cancer free – and back in Hollywood. She’s become more active on her Twitter and Instagram. She’s healthy enough to plan a trip climbing Machu Picchu with Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge next year. Most of all, she’s looking forward to landing new and interesting acting roles. “I’m feeling great,” she says. “And I’m so ready to get back to working. I think I’m a good actress, and I have a lot to offer. I’m excited to see what I get to do next!”

For more about Cohn’s battle, pick up the latest copy of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

www.health.com/syndication/facts-of-life-star-mindy-cohn-secret-five-year-breast-cancer-battle “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com

Breast Cancer Survivor Rita Wilson Slams RHOC Cast for ‘Very Uncomfortable’ Cancer Talks

[brightcove:5522487361001 default]

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Rita Wilson has been watching this season of The Real Housewives of Orange County and relates to Peggy Sulahian‘s cancer battle.

On Monday’s episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, the actress opened up about the 44-year-old reality star, who underwent a double mastectomy weeks before joining the hit Bravo show’s 12th season.

Sulahian’s decision to get the procedure came after a biopsy found abnormal cancerous cells in her right breast — though Sulahian failed to mention that to her RHOC cast members at first, instead telling them that she went through with the bilateral mastectomy despite that fact that her BRCA gene testing, which helps women know their chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer, came back negative.

That lack of information left her fellow Orange County Housewives confused later when she said she had been diagnosed with cancer. But Wilson — who announced to PEOPLE exclusively in March 2015 that she was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction — understood Sulahian’s story and pointed her frustration back toward the other ladies.

“I was very uncomfortable about it because I am a breast cancer survivor,” the actress, 60, told WWHL host Andy Cohen.

“I was initially misdiagnosed and a very dear friend of mine said, ‘You have to go get a second opinion on your pathology,’ and that came back cancerous,” Wilson added. “If she didn’t initially feel or was told that perhaps she didn’t have cancer, it’s not necessarily true until you get the pathology tested, so I felt that that was really unfair.”

Wilson declared that she was cancer-free in December 2015. On WWHL, she stressed to Cohen the importance of staying on top of one’s health.  “Being breast cancer awareness month, I think it’s important for us to get as many second opinions as we can and get checkups,” she said.

Previously, Sulahian — whose mother died of breast cancer when Sulahian was just 21 years old — admitted that she regretted sharing her diagnosis with her costars, telling Bravo’s The Daily Dish “interrogation is not supportive.”

As of now, Sulahian — who will document the process of getting reconstructive surgery on the show — is “100 percent cancer free.”

“Please stay on top of your appointments in order to dodge this terrible disease,” she wrote on her BravoTV blog back in August. “I want to emphasize that testing negative on the BRCA gene does NOT guarantee being free of cancer. Putting your life in the hands of a reconstructive surgeon isn’t easy. It’s a long healing process mentally and physically, but completely worth not living the rest of your life in fear. I’m currently considering becoming active in the cancer communities, in order to offer my advice, hear more stories, and provide emotional support for women encountering the road block in their life.”

The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.
Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen airs Sundays through Thursdays (11 p.m. ET) on Bravo.

www.health.com/syndication/rita-wilson-peggy-sulahian-cancer-scare “>
Breast Cancer – Health.com