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Breast Cancer Stories

Kristen Vengler & Eva Sheie

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Breast Cancer Stories is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer or love someone who has, this podcast is here to help you through the shock of diagnosis and treatment. The first season of Breast Cancer Stories follows Kristen Vengler, a 56 year old single empty nester in San Diego, from her diagnosis of hormone positive breast cancer through chemotherapy, double mastectomy & breast reconstruction, radiation, an ...
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Since my diagnosis fourteen years ago, I have been dedicated to researching lifestyle changes and supporting clinical research to achieve the prevention of breast cancer. My goal is to raise awareness of the need for research funding for the primary prevention of women's cancers and to share information to help those facing this journey. My posts are educational and include my journey with bilateral breast cancer and my year of treatment including a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I ha ...
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After a fiasco in Escondido involving multiplying rodents and toxic air quality, Kristen’s on the move again. The pulmonologist found ground glass lungs and an enlarged heart, then Dr. Ali found an enlarged lymph node between her liver and stomach and asked for a PET scan. With recurrence always lurking, we play the old, familiar waiting game. ====…
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Terri Sterk is a two-time breast cancer survivor, health and wellness coach, and author. She spent seven years facilitating support groups and coaching women diagnosed with breast cancer. She now uses her story to serve women who have experienced trauma, including breast cancer and family discord, by inspiring them to thrive by healing their body, …
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About to turn 60, Natasha is in a dark place thinking of other things that can go wrong with her health if she’ll have to go it alone. Even though a routine MRI is clear, she obsesses about cancer spreading to other areas that aren’t being checked. Following her mother’s recent lung cancer diagnosis, Natasha worries more for her than she did for he…
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5 months after her DIEP flap reconstruction surgery, Alicia returns with an update. Although the original plan was to do a DIEP flap on both sides, it didn’t turn out that way and she still has an expander on the other side. Still unsure what to do next, Alicia is taking her time to decide. If she had known things would go the way they did, she bel…
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With the BRCA mutation and a family history of breast cancer, the “clock” started ticking for Alicia with biannual screenings at age 30. She tried to keep up with the screening schedule, but had young children and decided to go to nursing school. Nine uneventful years went by until she was diagnosed with Stage 2 HER2 negative hormone positive breas…
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#Pinkvaccine #ClevelandClinicBreastCancerVaccine #TNBC #triplenegativebreastcancer #SurvivingBreastCancer #BreastCancerStory #BreastCancer #breastcancerawareness #SABCS #AARC #ASCO #PinkVaccine #Preventionisthecure #Sisters4Prevention #VincentTuohy Jennifer Davis, 41, became the first person to get a breast cancer vaccine not yet approved for wides…
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Natasha’s port is out and is huge, resembling a miniature computer mouse. She still believes getting a port was the best decision she’s ever made and now that it’s gone, she can wear her old clothes again. While she enjoys living alone and is back at work five days a week, advice from her oncologist has her rethinking her relationship with alcohol.…
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In this episode of Cancer U Thrivers, hear Kristen’s interview with author, speaker, entrepreneur, and patient advocate Andrea Wilson Woods on her podcast Cancer U Thrivers. Kristen walks Andrea and her audience through her experience with stage 3 breast cancer, from finding her tumor in the shower, to chemo, her mastectomy and reconstruction, to r…
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NCI/NIH Complementary Cancer Care and Integrated Medicine National Cancer Institute Series. Breast Cancer: Tips from a Survivor Who Cares. Who am I? My name is Judy Fitzgerald. Since my breast cancer diagnosis fourteen years ago, I have been dedicated to sharing information to support breast cancer patients and survivors. My channel shares diet and…
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After a hard fall, Kristen breaks several ribs and at a scan to check for a ruptured implant, the radiologist sees a Skittle-sized spot near her breast implant just in time for the two year anniversary of her diagnosis. On the heels of a brand new set of post-treatment horrors and indignities, Kristen returns to share the good, the bad, and the ugl…
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Natasha adjusts to post-treatment daily life, continuing with hormone blockers and finally seeing a mental health professional. While working with less fortunate patients who don't have mittens or cold caps, Natasha looks back with gratitude on how privileged her treatment experience was. At work, she finds herself pushing patients much harder to a…
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After a scan shows a 1.2 cm nodule on her thyroid, Natasha goes for a biopsy which comes back with complicated results. Not wanting any more surgery or radiation right now means there’s a difficult decision to make. Three and a half weeks of radiation end without any terrible burns or skin issues, but celebrating feels phony because it’s never real…
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The radiation oncologist sends Natasha to a psycho-oncologist (did you know that was a thing?) because her antidepressants aren’t working, making self-care too hard. This forces her to confront the mental health struggles caused by the abrupt end of her time in Malawi, the surprise end of her 25-year marriage, and a cancer diagnosis all happening a…
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Natasha is given three options for radiation treatment, but it’s a challenge since everyone has been making decisions for her up to this point. She decides on three and a half weeks of radiation to the breast and the lymph nodes in the armpit. Down to just 104 pounds, she feels like a scarecrow in her clothes. Hoping to gain 10 pounds by the end of…
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It’s been two weeks since Natasha’s lumpectomy and because no evidence of cancer was found during surgery, she has been declared “cancer free” by her surgeon. The day of surgery was long and a little emotional from the anesthesia, but recovery has been less painful than expected. Food has flavor again and in her words, “it’s about bloody time!” The…
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Natural Ways to Reduce Chemo and Radiation Side Effects. Reduce Chemo and Radiation Side Effects #reducechemosideeffect #helpcancersideeffects #survivechemo #survivingcancer #chemosideeffects #breastcancer # Helpful Supplements to Reduce Chemo Side Effects Ginger can help you manage nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. But it may also thin your b…
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After Natasha and friends travel to Mexico to celebrate the end of chemo, it’s her turn to catch COVID which delays her lumpectomy surgery for a week. Her nerves are shot from constant fear of the unknown. Because there’s nothing visible on her most recent mammogram, she worries they’ll find all kinds of horrors during surgery and with chemo behind…
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Thanks to the incredible cold cap technology, Desert Essence shampoo, and seldomly using a brush, after six rounds of chemo Natasha still has her hair. Meanwhile, everything else is falling apart. Plans to celebrate at a fancy restaurant are wrecked when her date gets COVID and none of her friends can go. An insurance snafu just 2 days before her l…
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With five sessions down, Natasha feels less like a nurse and more like a patient. Her final chemo treatment is next Wednesday, and the planned end-of-chemo celebration feels fake because surgery and radiation are still ahead. Because food tastes even worse than before, she lives off rice and beans. To keep the weight loss from further eroding her s…
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Dana Donofree & Kristen outline the essential shopping list for surgery and recovery, from what to bring to the hospital through the different stages of recovery. Support the podcast by ordering your AnaOno favorites through our links! As an affiliate of AnaOno, we earn a few dollars if you purchase any items and our listeners also get 15% off with…
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Breast Cancer Prevention News. What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You. Ann Fonfa founder of the AnnieAppleseedProject speaks on topics doctors should cover and questions we wish we had had the answers too when we were diagnosed and going through treatment. "From its inception, the Annie Appleseed Project decided to challenge the existing treatment parad…
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After her 3rd chemo, Natasha is too tired to eat. All food loses its flavor and only texture remains, so peaches and sushi taste the same. She becomes so dehydrated that she wins herself a trip to urgent care for fluids. Wondering if she metabolizes chemo more slowly than others, she plans to set a hydration date after the next infusion. She used t…
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Natasha attempts a somewhat normal life by continuing to work and dating someone new. But behind the scenes, things are unraveling. She receives news about the alarming masses on her liver and thyroid. After her second chemo, unusual and disturbing side effects lead her to wonder how many other unexpected surprises are headed her way. Links Support…
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Horrific acid reflux is keeping Natasha up at night. None of the remedies recommended by her doctors make a difference, except for handy dandy marijuana. Radiology detects spots on her liver and thyroid and calls her in for an emergency MRI. The oncologist explains that if the liver lesions are looked at and she actually has stage four, her chemo t…
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On the eve of her first chemotherapy infusion, Natasha hauls a pile of new prescriptions home and questions why so much harm must be done to be “healthy” again. After meeting her oncologist Dr. Chen, a specialist in HER-2 positive breast cancer, the clinical trial that originally sounded promising turned out not to be a good fit, leading to a much …
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As a nurse, it was easy for Natasha to think of all the things the almond-sized lump in her armpit could be other than cancer, so she moved along with her busy life. When she realized it was not going away, her doctor sent her for a mammogram. It took six weeks to get there and then her busy schedule delayed it again. The mammogram saw nothing in e…
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While leading a Doctors Without Borders mission in Malawi, Natasha’s husband of 25 years blindsided her by ending their marriage in a text message. She returned home, fell into bed for a few weeks, and eventually with the help of her friends she pulled herself together and went back to work. A few months later when she discovered an almond-sized lu…
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Persistent foot pain caused by chemo forces Kristen to spend hours each day on physical therapy, taping, and stretching her feet at home. Wowing her friends with her ingenuity, she reveals that flesh-colored socks with the toes cut out are the trick to wearing flip flops to a wedding. A few weeks before her final reconstructive surgery in a moment …
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Breast Cancer Prevention News. Ann Fonfa founder of the AnnieAppleseedProject speaks on the dangers of processed foods to wellness especially for cancer patients. "From its inception, the Annie Appleseed Project decided to Challenge the Existing treatment paradigm, to Question the existing research methods and subjects, and to Propose new direction…
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On the eve of the final reconstructive surgery, which coincides with the 1-year anniversary of her mastectomy, Kristen reflects on how far she’s come and how many things are different from what she expected. Finally relenting to the damage in her feet, she applies for a handicapped placard and shares her relief over no longer having to schlep acros…
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Six weeks after the (evil) expanders are out and new 700cc “porn-star-sized” breast implants are in, Kristen shares what it feels like to be on the other side of the painfully long process of stretching her skin to make room for the permanent replacements. After falling into the bushes while climbing the path to her beloved apartment near the beach…
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As a nurse, you never truly understand the level of terror your patients are experiencing until you become one yourself. New York Times best-selling author Theresa Brown, RN, shares her breast cancer treatment journey along with details about her new book, “Healing.” Diagnosed with breast cancer in fall of 2017, Theresa underwent a lumpectomy and f…
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Natasha Curry is not your everyday average nurse. As a palliative care nurse practitioner at San Francisco General Hospital, she cares for the poorest and most vulnerable at what is often the most challenging time of their lives. Many patients are homeless and also struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, in addition to cancer and other …
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The Importance of Breast Cancer Advocacy: Special Guest Ann Fonfa: Annie Appleseed Project. What are the challenges of Breast Cancer Advocacy? Why are breast cancer advocates so important? Tips for cancer survivors on how to follow a path to wellness! Ann Fonfa was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 1993. She was suffering from extreme Multipl…
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When and if lymph nodes have to be removed in the course of breast cancer treatment, lymphedema is a persistent aftereffect that must be treated and cared for following surgery, sometimes for many years. Special guest and lymphedema specialist Christine Galione, MSPT, CLT is a physical therapist and expert lymphatic massage practitioner at Scripps …
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To help make radiation go a little better, Kristen teams up with guest Jen Delvaux to talk about their radiation experiences and share the little things that made them more comfortable. Most women head into radiation not knowing the process or what to expect. Intimidating machines, tattoos, buzzing noises, orders about how to move (or not move) are…
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Ann Fonfa was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 1993. She was suffering from extreme Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a still not recognized illness. She avoided chemotherapy, hormonal and radiation treatments using surgery and natural strategies to survive. Told she was stage IV in 1997, Ann added personalized Chinese herbal prescriptions to h…
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It’s the day after Kristen’s surgery to replace her expanders with permanent breast implants, and she’s already feeling much better. For the last 33 weeks, Kristen lived with a constant 2-4 pain level from the uncomfortable and awkward expanders. Today her chest looks normal again, even if it will never feel the same. Kristen trusted her plastic su…
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It’s the night before Kristen’s implant exchange surgery. After 9 long months, the painful, lopsided tissue expanders will be replaced with silicone gel breast implants and her constant pain will come to an end. At her pre-op appointment with Dr. Pacella, Kristen imagines choosing the new boobs will be like walking into a candy store and exploring …
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Nobody told Kristen just how horrible the side effects from the hormone blockers would be. The neuropathy in her feet causes her to walk like an old woman and she struggles with simple, everyday movement like standing up from the couch or walking up stairs. To combat calcium loss from the hormone blockers, Kristen has a Zometa infusion which causes…
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Kristen returns to Austin during the holidays to help a friend recover from surgery, clear out the last of her old things from the storage unit, and close the door on 26 years of her life. A stinky side effect leads us to invent a new dance move, and in honor of the 1 year anniversary of Kristen’s diagnosis, we attempt a round of rapid fire questio…
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T.J. Hills was a busy working mother of 3 young boys in 2009 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage III breast cancer. Like over 80% of breast cancer patients, she was the first person in her extended family to be diagnosed. She later learned that while there was no family history of cancer there was extensive medical conditions resulting …
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In part 2 of our conversation with plastic surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella, we go behind the doors of the operating room to understand how the team functions and learn some surprising things about surgery. Looking back on Kristen’s extraordinary pain in the hours following surgery, we get real answers about how and why her pain was so extreme and wha…
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Kristen’s plastic surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella joins us to deconstruct her breast reconstruction and help us understand his strategy for the multi-stage approach in which the expanders are placed at the time of mastectomy and replaced with breast implants following radiation. We ask all the unanswered burning questions, including whether he can ev…
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Can cancer be prevented? A 31 day Journey to Cancer Prevention and ways to prevent recurrence. Join me on a journey of 31 days for cancer prevention. Each video will feature a cancer prevention strategy that will help you lead a healthy life. Easy tips to adapt one at a time and you don't have to do them all to get some results. Learn how to adapt …
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Two months after radiation, Kristen’s chest isn’t looking like such a hot mess anymore. But in mental health terms, we’re in the valley now and nobody knows how deep or wide that valley will be. Kristen learns the hard way what happens if she misses a dose or two of her hormone blockers, and explains what her physical therapist is doing to prevent …
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Despite increasing pain and burns from the most recent round of radiation, Kristen manages to keep up with work and spend time with a friend at the beach. With only five days left until the end of radiation and “no evidence of disease,” surely there’s a celebration in store? On one hand, yes, and maybe even a silly Halloween costume in the works. O…
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