"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Those are just a few of the many inspired words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We feel such a strong connection with this statement particularly, as many of us lean heavily on faith from the first sign of a breast cancer symptom or the moment of an official diagnosis.
Our August survivor Georgina Machare clutched her faith tightly when she found a lump during a self-exam.
"Cancer is a serious topic. I feel like anyone can overcome it with faith and with the support of your loved ones."
Through her example, we are not only reminded about the importance of faith, but also in conducting self-exams, as we have emphasized so many times before.
If you need a refresher, Breastcancer.org offers a step by step guide on how to perform a self-exam which we find super helpful.
Soon after she found her lump, Georgina was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. In an easy to understand way, The National Breast Cancer Foundation sums up what exactly Stage II means by explaining that in this stage the breast cancer is growing, but it is either still contained within the breast or the growth has only extended to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage II then has two subcategories but the main difference here is basically the size of the tumor and just how much the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
For example, a person may be categorized into Stage IIA if there is either no tumor present but the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, a tumor less than 2 centimeters is present and the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, or the tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters but the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
However for Stage IIB, either the tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters and has spread to the lymph nodes or the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to any of the lymph nodes.
While there are a few different treatment options for patients with Stage II breast cancer, Georgina opted for a mastectomy to better ensure her chances that the cancer would be removed and not return. This plan worked for her and she didn't need chemotherapy, but currently takes Tamoxifen pills with an anticipated run of 10 more years on the medication. Treatment options can be, in some cases, a personal preference and should be discussed with your doctor to find something that suits you best and works for your individual prognosis.
Tamoxifen is classified as a SERM, a selective estrogen receptor modulator hormonal therapy. Breastcancer.org details the medication more specifically here.
In pill form it is also distributed under brand names including Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen and Tamone, and in a liquid form as Soltamox.
SERMs help stop the effects of estrogen in the breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in the cells of the breast.
Tamoxifen is often used to reduce the risk of early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer returning after treatment, including surgery as in Georgina's case.
While Tamoxifen has some known side effects, fortunately Georgina feels healthy and energetic enough to still go for walks and exercise.
And as her physical health repairs, her inner spirit seems to have always stayed intact. Something she credits to her family, friends, coworkers and doctors.
"I never went to therapy, never was depressed, because everyone around me made sure I never was sad. They all helped me by making me laugh, keeping me company during the worst times."
First and foremost though Georgina bestows her greatest appreciation to God and faith for seeing her through from the moment she first discovered her lump to her present day survival story.
"I am thankful to the doctors who saved my life, but God is who really took the cancer away. I am now a very happy woman and I learned to move on."
Georgina celebrated a birthday earlier this month so happy belated to her!
We hope you all enjoy what's left of summer and catch us next month as we move closer to Fall (gasp!) and highlight some perfect activities for the upcoming season like walking for a great cause.
Stay tuned, until then keep your Eye On Strength!