JahnNell L. Shofner

My Incredible Journey with Metastatic Breast Cancer

"I found my breast lump just 2 days after my 41st birthday.  I already had an appointment scheduled to see my Primary Care Physician that next week for my annual wellness check. Upon arrival to my appointment, I showed my doctor the lump that I had found and she informed me that I needed to have a diagnostic mammogram. This was the first mammogram that I had ever had in my life.

I went to the Unity Point Health Breast Center in September 2015 and had a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound that same day. The doctor informed me that I have breast cancer and will need to be scheduled for a breast and lymph node biopsy immediately. I had the biopsy of the breast lump and 1 swollen lymph node about a week later. I was informed that I had Stage 2 breast cancer with no lymph node involvement. What a relief!

I went to see my breast surgeon and she scheduled me for a lumpectomy in November 2015 at Unity Point Health Methodist Hospital. During my surgery, my family was informed that I was now a Stage 3C with lymph node involvement. I had 28 lymph nodes removed and 15 were positive for cancer. This was devastating news for my family!

Within a couple days after my surgery, my breast surgeon was very insistent that I have a PET scan done. I had my 1st PET scan in December 2015. My PET scan showed that I was now a Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer patient with metastasis to my bones. This news changed my life forever. How could I tell my children and my family this news? At that very moment, I knew to surrender my life to God. With his love and mercy, He would see my family and I through this cancer journey without a doubt. Since this particular day, we have seen countless miracles happen in my life.

I was scheduled for an appointment to see Dr Le-Lindqwister at Illinois Cancer Care. I started chemotherapy and anti-HER2 therapy in January 2016. After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, I had a PET scan and it showed No Evidence of Disease. I received 30 rounds of radiation therapy to my left breast at the end of May 2016. I had about 2-3 weeks without radiation and then went back for 30 more rounds of radiation for the cancer on my spine and ribs finishing that in early September.

With my diagnosis of Triple Positive Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, this type of cancer feeds off of any estrogen and progesterone in my body. I will have to have some form of treatment every 3 weeks for the rest of my life due to this cancer’s aggressive nature. Since I was still pre-menopausal, my doctors and I decided that I undergo a total hysterectomy in November 2016. Immediately, I was put into menopause but it helped to slow down the vicious feeding cycle of my cancer. After surgery, I started on an aromatase inhibitor for menopausal women which will continue to get rid of more hormones in my body.

I have to take off at least 3-4 days of work the week that I have treatment. Although, I currently do not need chemotherapy, I still get slightly tired and some bone and joint pain from not only my anti-HER2 therapy but now from my aromatase inhibitor too. I still lean on God every week of my treatment for that continued strength, determination, and hope that He so lovingly provides for me.

Being a Stage 4 breast cancer patient, I have to get echocardiograms done every 3 -4 months, PET scans done every 3-4 months and additional follow-up care with my doctors as necessary. My medical bills were starting to pile up by this time. I currently work in the same building as Nancy Borum, the Founder of Bikers for Ta-Tas. She had come into my office one day to help other employees with a project and I heard them say her name. I immediately hollered her name and this is where my story begins with Nancy Borum and Bikers for Ta-tas. From the first day that I met Nancy, I just knew that she was my guardian angel sent from God. She was very supportive, positive, inspiring, and always has welcomed me with her beautiful smile. She explained to me that Bikers for Ta-tas could pay all of my medical bills incurred at Unity Point Hospital, including PET scans, Echocardiograms, any Surgeries, etc. I could hardly speak at that moment. I was completely overwhelmed with the love, kindness, and generosity that Nancy Borum showed to me that day. Without the funding and support from Bikers for Ta-Tas and Nancy Borum, I would be overwhelmed with the amount of money that we would owe just on medical bills. Words will never explain how grateful and appreciative that I am to her and Bikers for Ta-tas!

 

 Through this entire storm, I have continued to lean on God for strength, courage, wisdom, and perseverance. He has been my Rock, Refuge, and Keeper of my Life. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Nursing in October 2015 and wanted to continue to pursue my dream of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. But… I feel that right now God has different plans for me. My biggest dream right now is to be able to help the next woman that has to face this trial and hardship in her life and find a cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer. I want to be able to reach out to women and their families with the knowledge that I have obtained through my Stage 4 journey and to tell them that there is always hope and to never give up on their dreams. Nothing is ever impossible with God. I love the woman that I become because I fought so hard to become her.

I wanted to share the meaning and origin of the Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer Ribbon since not many people are aware of its derivation.  The origin of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Ribbon is very unique and detailed. The base ribbon is green and teal to represent metastasis. Green represents the triumph of spring over winter, life over death, and symbolizes renewal, hope, and immortality while teal symbolizes healing and spirituality. The thin pink ribbon overlay signifies that the metastatic breast cancer originated in the breast."

 

-JahnNell Shofner

Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient

Lori Rudd

"Well...here goes...wwwaaaaayyyy back 20 years ago I was taking a shower and came across a large lump in my breast...it was located in the upper right side of my breast and I have no idea how I hadn't felt it before because it was over 3 inches long (as we came to know after it was removed).  I was 31 years old with 3 young kids and a husband of 7 years.  I was sick to my stomach and in disbelief as I called the doctor to get an appointment.  He got me in pretty quick and there I had my very first mammogram.  The technician was a friend of my aunt and didn't look happy when we were done.  She told me I would probably need to have a biopsy but she couldn't tell me anything...I asked to get one right then as I started to panic...I had a biopsy 20 minutes later...that was a Friday.  Saturday morning I received the call...it got me...I dropped to my knees and howled from the bottom of my soul.  1 week later I had a lumpectomy and an oophorectomy (yay no more period!) to remove my ovaries because the tumor was estrogen fed. 4 rounds of chemo and 6 shots of radiation later they said I was cancer free!

They were right...for 8 years.   The kids were older, the husband was gone, the income was much less, and they found another "spot".  My dad was with me as the Komen Foundation counselor called me into "the room" everyone dreads.  I knew then what was up.  This time I just dropped my forehead to the table and shook my head in disbelief.  How could I put my kids through this again?  How could I put my family and friends through this again?  How was I going to pay for this crap again?  Would my hairdresser (Kris Haas) shave my head again for free before it fell out?...should we go for a pink mohawk?

I decided on a full mastectomy to take those biotches off.  Reconstruction would happen the same time as the removal and recovery would be at least 4-6 weeks.  I almost died by bleeding out a couple days after the surgery...so I was in the hospital longer than expected.  We also had to go through 4 more rounds of chemo.  Mom and Dad took turns every day staying with me, feeding me, bathing me, looking after the kids...and so many others helped with meals and cleaning and FUNDRAISING (Kim Cooley) to keep the lights on.  We needed to have a big benefit and my family and friends produced a HUGE turnout...Nancy and Greg Borum offered to have a bike benefit.  Guess what that happened to turn out to be?  Yep...Bikers for Ta-Tas!  I was the first beneficiary!  I can't thank everyone enough, there are just no words to say how much they helped me.  I don't know how I would have made it without all the unselfish help I received during the hardest time of my life.  I am blessed."

-Lori Rudd

Bikers for Ta-Tas Recipient