Here is my story and why this fundraiser is so important to me! In the summer of 2014, I had a breast biopsy after my doctor found a suspicious lump. Thankfully, it came back benign. I was told that I did not need another mammogram until I turned 40. During one of my self-breast exams I found a lump. I asked my husband Pete what he thought. He didn't think it was anything remarkable. I waited 3 weeks and asked my OBGYN at my annual in June. She thought the lump was my rib but suspected lumps on the opposite breast. Fast forward to my mammogram, biopsy, and MRI at the end of August 2015. My family and I were getting ready to go to my son Josh's pep rally for his flag football team that Pete was coaching. They were waiting in the car when I got the dreaded call, "You have cancer". My doctor was so calm, encouraging, and full of resources. My family was getting impatient, not realizing that I was having one of the most monumental phone calls of my life! I was absolutely numb and in shock. I had to put on my happy face and sit among friends and families and pretend that all was right in the world. My world was about to be rocked! I had a list of surgeons, plastic surgeons, and random notes that I jotted down burning a hole in my pocket. Everything was a whirlwind after that. My fantastic husband accompanied me to various appointments with surgeons and plastic surgeons. He held me, we talked, I cried! My friends and family were an unbelievable support system. I found out that I would need a mastectomy. Initially, I had DCIS and my tumor was thought to be contained in the milk duct but too big to have a lumpectomy. I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy so that I would look symmetrical and not have to worry about future breast cancer scares. I am a second grade teacher. I thought I would need 6 weeks off of school and resume life as normal. I spent the month of September getting everything ready for my sub and trying to prepare my students. This was a welcome distraction. My daughter Hannah was starting 3rd grade and Josh was going into 1st grade. We tried hard to keep positive and stay routine based. I had surgery on October 6, 2015. My surgical team was over the moon! They didn't find cancer in my lymph nodes and Pete sent out a positive email to our family and friends. The medical team did mention a suspicious area they removed but didn't seem overly concerned. I went home from the hospital with 4 drains that caused pain in everything that I did. Pete was great about helping me to empty them. I cried each and every time. My breasts were gone. The emotional pain was worse than the physical pain and trust me that was pretty bad! I still have scars from those drains! My biggest goal was to show my kids that life will throw some bad stuff at you sometimes. It's all about how you fight against adversity. I used that to fuel my fight and I made sure they saw me smile! The pathology report came in 7 days later. I had a very aggressive tumor. Now, I needed chemo too. After that, I would need to be on tamoxifen for 10 years. That would decrease my chances of a reoccurrence to 13 percent from 23 percent. How was this possible? I already told my kids and students that I wasn't going to lose my hair. How could this be? What?? I have so much to do, so much to see! I need to finish raising my children and be a grandmother some day! I started chemo on November 6, 2015. I lost most of my hair within 2 weeks. I spent my 39th birthday bald and sick from chemo. I gained 15 pounds during the chemo too- nobody told me this was common too. Yeah! When I asked my oncologist about speaking to a nutritionist he said he wanted me to see an endocrinologist first. My calcium numbers were off in my blood work. I came to find out that I needed my parathyroid gland removed. Oh, and they found thyroid cancer too! How does one person get so lucky! My plastic surgeon told me that if he saw me getting on the same plane as him, he may consider changing flights! I had reconstructive surgery on February 19th. My fantastic surgeon recut open my healing scars to place my implants. Here we go again. New, red, ugly scars! I had my thyroid removed on April 7th. That added another lovely scar to my neck area. That being said, I'm alive! My 3 major surgeries were over! I get to celebrate Mother's Day and continue to enjoy life for all it has to offer! I am all the more appreciative of the little things. There is so much to celebrate! Two weeks ago, I started my Tamoxifen. I have experienced a medley of different side effects but it will give me the edge to keep the cancer at bay. I have the best family and friends a girl could ask for! I really am blessed! Please consider donating money to Breast Buddies so that we can continue to educate, prevent future cancers, and empower women to find their strong. If I didn't find the lump when I did, I may not have been able to tell this story or get dirty with the other survivors! Thank you for supporting this organization!