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Many of ComEd's employees have been directly impacted by breast cancer, either personally or through the close contact of a friend or family member. The impact extends exponentially when you count ComEd's 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois. ComEd proudly supports and participates in efforts to raise awareness about the importance of early detection, and encourages customers and employees alike to learn more about preventative care. And our employees share their stories and wear pink to show their support.
Jill: In October of 2012, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer that had started to spread into my lymphatic system. The doctor's words, "you have cancer," were some of the scariest I'd ever heard in my life.
As soon as I was diagnosed I began very aggressive treatments – four surgeries, six chemo treatments and eight weeks of daily radiation treatments. The chemo was very hard on me and my body. It's like being injected with poison that just about kills the life right out of you and tries to take your soul.
I prayed every day for strength and to live to make it through to the other side. I wanted my life back.
Today, I'm cancer free. This experience has taught me that life is fragile and to not take things for granted. Be compassionate to everyone, forgive, eat healthy, find some balance, listen to your body and don't miss your checkups. If you find something out of the ordinary then get it taken care of immediately. It might just save your life.
Karla: I have been diagnosed with early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), twice – the first time in 2010 and then again in 2013.
The first time I was diagnosed, at 39-years-old, I had to undergo a lumpectomy and a month of radiation treatments. There is no history of breast cancer in my family, and I was not experiencing any symptoms. In 2013, it reoccurred on the same side, which resulted in a mastectomy and reconstruction.
Just this week, I had my 2-year checkup and am cancer free. I am definitely a believer of early detection!
Jodi: In early 2011, I was lying in bed watching TV when a commercial for breast cancer came on. The commercial centered on early detection and self-exams. My best friend had undergone treatment for breast cancer a couple of years earlier; however, I still was not diligent in performing self-exams. My family had no history of breast cancer; I was 47 and had undergone a previous lumpectomy only to find a benign tumor. What risk could I possibly have?
During the commercial I decided to perform a self-exam and within the first few minutes felt a lump. I was stunned; I kept rechecking the lump for the next hour thinking it was just a fluke. The next morning I checked again and felt the same thing. That night I asked my husband what he thought and he confirmed he felt a lump too. Still not too concerned, I contacted my physician who sent me in for a mammogram – I was not due for my yearly mammogram for months. A few days later I received a call that they wanted to perform an ultrasound. They immediately told me there was a lump that needed to be biopsied.
Shortly after they performed a biopsy, it was confirmed I had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is cancer of the breast duct. Needless to say, we were in shock. A lumpectomy would need to be performed to ensure all the margins were taken out. Still in disbelief, with the exception of my husband, I did not speak of this to my family or best friend for a couple of days – it was just too much to bear and I needed to get my head around things. I finally explained the situation to my family and that my surgery was scheduled. It was the scariest time of my life.
The surgery went as planned and the cancer was determined to be Stage 0 DCIS, fueled by the estrogen in my own body. Oddly enough the lump I felt was not the cancer, just a benign lump (one of many) in my breast. They identified the DCIS as part of the mammogram and then confirmed with the ultrasound and biopsy.
I am so thankful that I had the support of a wonderful family and friends and could not have gotten though all of this without their love and help.
Performing the self-exam not only led to the identification of this cancer, but found it early enough that it had not spread. I was lucky enough to not have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy, as the cancer was so localized. For four years I have been taking a drug called Tamoxifen, which is a drug to help prevent recurrence of estrogen fueled cancer. Next year I will stop taking it, when I am cancer-free for five years.
I am thankful for many things; the commercial that spoke to me that night, my wonderful family and friends, and a great surgeon, Dr. Sonia Sharpless. I will love the people forever and never forget all the support they gave me. Please encourage self-exams to your loved ones and ALWAYS take action if you find a lump. Get your mammograms….and CHERISH EVERY DAY WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
Julie: I am going through breast cancer now. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer and feel very lucky that it was detected early. I am currently going through radiation treatment.
I have a great support team. My co-workers can't believe I am still working, as we work outside, but I need to feel strong. My advice to anyone going through something similar is to keep positive thoughts and a good attitude.
Sharing these types of stories makes a difference by encouraging everyone to get involved. You would not believe how many women don't want to talk about it when I tell them I have breast cancer. Perhaps they are in denial that it could also happen to them.
The thing I dislike the most is when people tell me they are, "sorry." I don't want anyone to be sorry for me; I want them to be strong for me. That is what makes me strong!
Claudia: My name is Claudia, and I am a 9 1/2 year cancer survivor. I owe my mother my life. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2006 when I was only 38-years-old. She constantly asked my sisters and I to go get checked and I kept telling her, "no," that, "I was too young."
In April of that same year, just to appease my mom, I went in to talk to my doctor and get a mammogram. A couple days later, my doctor told me that he wanted me to go in to get a biopsy. I didn't mention anything to my mom at this point since she was currently going through chemo herself. I went through my biopsy, and before I left the hospital my doctor asked me to come back in to see him the next day. I thought he just wanted to check on my incision. Little did I know I was going to hear, "I'm sorry, Claudia, but you have breast cancer."
How could this be? We had just lost my dad in September of 2005, to myeloma cancer; my mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and now me. I was too young.
I knew I had to make it through this. My mom couldn't handle much more. I went home to call my mom and continued to make appointments with my surgeon and plastic surgeon. I just did what I had to do. I had a 14-year-old daughter at home and I had to raise her.
Three weeks later I had my first surgery of many. June 2, 2005, I had my reconstruction and mastectomy. As I was prepping to go into surgery, I was waiting for my mom to get done with her chemo on the other side of town so I could reassure her that everything would be fine. Six hours later I was done with my surgery, and cancer free. My surgeon had told me, "Thank God your mom made you come. You had an aggressive cancer, and it probably would have been too late had you waited another year."
I am a survivor. My oldest daughter is now 24, and is making me a grandma, and I now also have a 7-year-old little girl. There is life after cancer.
Breast cancer runs extremely high on my mother's side of the family. A couple of aunts, several cousins, my mom, myself, and now my younger sister. You can't always think you are too young.