Friday, October 19, 2012


My Journey Through OZ
Pamela Embury

As you know, we all have a story to tell, each one different yet the same. You see, we all share a common thread, something that was unwanted, and yet came anyway to invade our bodies, our lives and our souls. Bonds between breast cancer survivors are unique, it is that beautiful acceptance that is not materialistic, just pure.

My name is Pamela and at the age of 37 I knew I had breast cancer without even going to the doctors. You see, I had been fighting to get approval for mammograms and sonograms since I was 35 but because I had no family history, and was so young, they rejected my multiple requests. Finally, after two years, I was diagnosed through bilateral sonogram. I KNEW IT! To the day of my bilateral mastectomies in 2008,
my mammograms were all normal. I was that small percentage with dense breasts where mammograms would not help. I was diagnosed with left breast invasive ductal carcinoma in 2 of 3 masses with DCIS in the third. My nodes were negative. My ER/PR status were 99% each and my Her2neu was initially reported as negative, however, a year later the copy I received stated positive, and thus I missed out on an incredible drug herceptin, which might have prevented my recurrence.

Thursday, October 18, 2012



Ellen Gondola

I was in my early 20's when I felt a strange lump behind my nipple. It wasn't painful, but I knew it wasn't "right". I first went to my general MD, after all, who thinks breast cancer when you're barely 22?  I was told it was probably a case of mastitis, as I was a runner, and it was most likely due to irritation from my running bra's. Given antibiotics, I was on my way.

Two weeks later, a full course of antibiotics and the lump was still there. Something in my gut said to get it checked out. I went back to the doctor. I heard that it was, again, "probably nothing", but this time, those little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I couldn't accept that. I needed to know for sure. I asked for an x-ray, or a mammogram, and was told I was too young to be concerned about cancer. "Too young"? The words rang in my ears as I left the doctors office. I spent that night thinking of all the children that get cancer.  I went to my Gyn's office the next morning with out calling first. I was suddenly terrified of this 'thing' growing inside me. I begged at the window to be seen by  the doctor, and was told I could wait. When I was finally fit in, the Dr. said the same thing "nothing to worry about, you're too young".

Again, I asked for an x-ray, or a mammogram. He smiled at me and said that he'd had enough experience to know when something like that was needed, and I should go home, and stop being dramatic.I tried, I did. I tried to ignore it. But I couldn't. So, I found another MD...and then, took four months, and countless doctors before I found one that said "Yes, this does need looking into"!

One mammogram, one diagnosis. DCIS ( ductile carcinoma in situ) Oh, there were needle biopsies, and all the other needed tests, but without that mammogram, they never would have happened.

My surgery was scheduled quickly, and unfortunately without researching surgeons, I was left with a botched surgical site. My nipple sutured half inside, half out. The surgeon taking far more than just the ducts and glands that needed to be taken, as if he'd used an ice cream scoop, rather than a scalpel.
Days after surgery, my stitches became "untied", and calling his office, I was told to use 'band-aids' to cover the opening, a gaping wound that I can still visualize, 25 years later.

A trip to the local ER put me in contact with a wonderful plastic surgeon, who had to 'tape' the wound, but promised to make it "all better" once it healed. 18 months later, I'm proud to say, he did. With reconstruction, scar revision, and release of my nipple, he made me look almost 'normal'. It was during that 18 month period, that my live in boyfriend walked out, telling me he couldn't take my "freakish appearance" anymore. 

I'd fought for my health, fought for my life, hid my lop sided appearance the best I could, but would not fight stupidity. As he left, I felt something new through the pain of heartbreak, I felt the strength that I had grown without even realizing it. I had beaten cancer. So, I had some scars, soon, I'd beat those too. I'd found something inside myself I might have never known....

I'm a survivor, I live, I love and I know deep inside what really matters everyday.

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Please read our first BCABBP Survivor's Story

DRL's original post about the fabulous BCABBP

For more information please email Michael Colanero at

Photos used with permission of Michael D.Colanero & UNCOMMON GALLERY.
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Doris Jelinek

Ever feel like you are in a dream....everything is wonderful and suddenly you look up and there is a mac truck in your face? That is how I felt when I woke up from my breast biopsy back in Sept 2000.  My life was wonderful. I had three adorable kids who were the light of my life Tim 6, Matt 4 and Holly 2, and a great husband, Keith. The biggest thing I worried about was what kind of pancakes the kids and I were going to make that day, or what park we were going to head out to. Over a series of months I had noticed a chain of small lumps in my right breast develop  and thought for sure they were cysts. It was the breast surgeon that I finally saw that saved my life, Dr David Kaufman. Because my breast were dense at  32 years old, the lumps did not show up on the mammo and he insisted that I have them biopsied. I fought this idea. I was so busy with my kids and did not want to take the time to be in the hospital for a day. I also somehow thought that because I had such small breasts there was no way it would be cancer. Almost annoyed with having to do this procedure I dragged myself there. When I awoke from the anesthesia all I could see was the worried face of Dr Kaufman and the words I could not comprehend "Doris it is cancer, you have to come back tomorrow for a mastectomy"........Cancer? I didn't know anyone who had cancer. I did not have any of the risk factors. Had all three kids under thirty, breast fed them all, never on the pill, no family history, 32 years old. Are you kidding me????. "Fine"....I said to myself. I came home I looked my breast in the mirror, thanked it for nursing my three kids and serving me well....and said "goodbye".


Barbara Ward-Finneran & Dawn Boyle

What better way to give others hope then to see such amazing beauty be born out of what was formerly the darkness and despair of cancer.
Photographer, Michael D. Colanero’s, passion as an artist lead him to create visions that helps reconcile the desparities of cancer with empowering visions of hope.  This  journey to support Breast Cancer Awareness through the visual arts led him to create the Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project: A Fine Art & Photography Essay of SurvivorsThese works of art came into being through the combined efforts of Michael and very talented body painting artist, Keegan Hitchcock.  Michael provides the photography and digital artistry and Keegan uses the bodies of survivors as canvases to literally bring the images to life. The artists work together to develop a concept and design so that work of art gives visual voice to the specific survivor and their story.  As Michael has stated, “So far 23 brave and incredible women have selflessly stepped forward and been painted for the project. I may be the creator but these SURVIVORS are the project. Everything is a true collaboration of the women the body painter(s) and my work as well. All of it then shared and appreciated by the people it touches. Every link in the chain is important.”  The imagery is first painted onto the breast cancer survivor’s bare torso. Then it is photographed and digitally remastered creating stunning images that are thought provoking while raising awareness by embedding the survivors backstory visually within the works of art. A combination that creates a masterpiece with not just aesthetic value but art for and with a purpose.  The positive impact of this project has limitless potential. With over 200,000 breast cancer diagnoses each year in the US, it is Michael’s aim to "reach in all the directions it needs to, to make the biggest difference to those who need it most - financially, emotionally and spiritually."  If that is the “body” of the project, then the heart and soul is to inspire hope and foster and breed encouragement for those still on the journey of fighting this disease.  There is amazing hope fostered when the women (and men) can see positive and beautiful images of those who have walked the journey and won the battle.  
It is hope of DRL to give the “write” voice to this amazing project! The giving spirit and selflessness of these collaborative work and the backstories will continue to be shared here at the lounge in the coming weeks.
We invite you to join us on this journey, seen through the eyes of the artists’ and hearts of the brave women and men who allowed their inhibitions to fade and  in doing so, gave us, and will give the world, the opportunity to be touched by this amazing and awe inspiring art. 

For more information please email Michael Colanero at

Photos used with permission of Michael D.Colanero & UNCOMMON GALLERY.
All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 15, 2012


Barbara Ward-Finneran

Set your sights on success and strech the limits of your dreams. Trust yourself enough to believe in the power that lies within you. The groundwork of achieving your goals is accomplished by holding fast to faith, determination and action filled motivation. You must risk failure to find favorable victories. 

Keep the promises that you make to yourself!
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