Christina Turgati is our Breast Cancer Survivor of the Week. She was first diagnosed in July of 2011 and had a mastectomy shortly after. She walked the "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk with her friends, co-workers, family, daughter Marissa (pictured with Christine), and a man named Joe, who is now her fiancé! She is now cancer-free, and she and Joe are getting married in July of 2013.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Christine.

When were you diagnosed?
July 2011

Age
44

Are you cancer-free? If so, for how long?
Yes, for one year

How have your family and friends helped you?
I could not have gone through this without them.

What tips do you have to help other breast cancer survivors stay positive?
Take one day at a time.

What has someone done to make you feel better?
My mom, she took care of me every day. She was there at my worst times. Right after my mastectomy, when I felt completely disfigured, she made me laugh over the tears.

Who has made an impact on you?
Nick. He is the concierge at the front desk at Memorial Sloan Kettering medical center in Manhattan. He welcomes everyone who enters, he greets everybody with a warm, amazing, over the top greeting... He is like an angel... really and truly. In a place where so many people are dealing with cancer, he can make anyone feel happy and uplifted. I went for a checkup last week, after not having been there a while, and he came out from behind the desk, hugged me, fawned over me, and sometimes that is all the medicine you need.

What advice would you give someone who is about to go through treatment?
You can do this.

What was the scariest moment?
Walking into the operating room for the mastectomy.

What was the funniest moment?
Several times when my mom was taking care of me right after surgery, we would laugh over the stupidest stuff. Emptying my drains was especially hilarious for some reason.

How has breast cancer made you stronger?

I know that I can handle anything, I have also been able to inspire other women, friends, coworkers who have also gone through this.

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Comments

Kathy Thompson
561 days ago

First, Thank you for all you do to help in the fight against breast cancer.
I am writing to let you know about all the "angel survivors" I've encountered on my 6-year journey with Stage 3B breast cancer. I met these angels in the form of nurses who risk their lives while providing chemotherapy to patients and in the form of other survivors. There are many survivors who are paying it forward in order to possibly ease another's cancer journey.
While doing my own mission, the "Camisole Connection"; especially on Facebook, I've found survivors who have written books, created blogs, created or organized fund raisers for cancer research, and provide a listening ear. I just want to acknowledge these giving women and men. If you'd like me to provide more about this, please contact me at kathompso@aol.com, camiconn2@aol.com, or 520-60...9-9427. Thank you.
Sincerely, Kathy Thompson

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T Larson
562 days ago

Ellen, I've been watching your show many days over the past two years, as I've been home recovering from breast cancer and 2 employment layoffs. Laughing helps keep my spirits up. I was fortunate with my DCIS diagnosis--caught at an early stage, so only lumpectomy and radiation for me. No typical chemo, but will be on Tamoxifen for 5 years. Hot flash city! Anyway, the hard part has been the reconstruction. My advice: Forget reconstruction--it's not worth it. I'm 10 days out from my 3rd reconstruction surgery--I'm still in pain and feeling disabled--it's affecting my ability to look for a new job and go on interviews. And all for vanity--sheesh! At age 51 when then Tamoxifen is forcing menopause--silly decision on my part, but wanted some silver lining out of this horrible & prolific disease. It's possible this latest surgery won't "hold" for my radiated breast, and if that's the case, I will have them remove the implant and live life with a prosthetic. But through the whole process, I've learned more about gratitude. Because those days when I'm feeling sorry for myself, I remember so many others have it worse than I, including my step-sister in California who was diagnosed with brain cancer the same month as my diagnosis for breast cancer. Her outlook is much worse--I hope she will make it to the end of December to see her first grandchild born. Thank you for the opportunity to share.

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Julee Hammond
563 days ago

Woops! In rereading my previous comment, I notice I put my age as 43, and I am 42! haha! I also did not conclude my feeling that Fisker's pink car didn't mean much about supporting breast cancer after the way my husband was treated during mine. I hope all of the companies supporting the pink are legit and not just trying to create profit! Oh well, at least they are raising awareness for women to get tested! Please excuse my disconnect, I still have a bit of "chemo brain". :)

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Julee Hammond
563 days ago

Dear Ellen,

It means so much to me how you are supporting breast cancer! I am a survivor as of Good Friday of this year! I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in April of 2011. I began with a lumpectomy, followed by 6 months of chemo; then I found another lump under my arm at which time they did a mastectomy and lymphnode dissection. I finished my final 3 chemos, then 6 weeks of radiation. My story is unusual, as I developed the second lump during chemo. This prompted a consultation at City of Hope, and I finally got an answer a few months later from my radiologist oncologist; the new cancerous lump was a cell that had "hidden" in my scar tissue formed from the lumpectomy and sentinel node dissection. The chemo could not permeate the scar tissue as it travels through our blood stream. Radiation does permeate scar tissue, which is why I underwent 6 weeks of it. I would love women to know this scenario when they are deciding whether or not to do radiation. I am 43 years old with no risk factors. I am a mother of 3; 2 girls in college at UCLA and a 9 year old son. This experience has taught our family more than we could have imagined. My middle daughter, Maddi is a biochem. major, feeling called into medicine after taking care of me this past year. :) All 3 of my kids are huge breast cancer awareness supporters. :)My son, Mitch in 4th grade wears pink shoelaces to school everyday and in baseball on the weekend. :) We plan to do the walk when I am fully back to my normal energy level. :) Right now we are all, including my husbamd so grateful to the medical professionals and compassionate souls like yourself for your dedication to this disease! Thank you! :)It really keeps us going!!
I love October for calling attention to early detection, it saved my life! I have one negative remark from my experience. My husband, Mike, was laid off from his job at Fisker Automotive in February of 2012, 3 days before I began radiation. He is an ABAP computer programmer, and appears to be a victim of Fisker trying to save money on medical deductibles. He was laid off without notice that fateful February day, receiving an email from his direct boss the same evening apologizing for the terrible timing, explaining he had no knowledge of the layoff and that Mike was one of the best programmers he had ever worked with. Another gentleman in purchasing was also laid off at the same time, whose wife was also going through breast cancer. They replaced Mike's position with a consultant as it was key to daily operations. Thanks to Mike's reputation, he was able to get a consulting job in 3 weeks time that enabled us to cover the cost of COBRA insurance. God always has a better plan! :) I had kind of put this experience with Fisker out of my mind until yesterday when I saw them displaying a pink Fisker Karma to support breast cancer; this threw me for a loop, and I went back to that dark day when my husband was laid off. :( I just wish for no other person to ever go through this work situation; it is a horrible thought that you were terminated because of insurance dollars! Anyway, my conclusion is, my family survived this very trying last year, and anyone can do the same! Thanks again to you and your big, beautiful heart for keeping all of our hope alive! I love you Ellen! :-)

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Lorette Hargreaves
563 days ago

I'm a second time breast cancer survivor, soccer and hockey player and lousy cook. The cancer journey is such an individual one. There won't be two people having the same trip and view from the windows of the cancer 'treatment train.'

I've learnt that we can't rely on the 'conductor' to get to our destination of good health but need to take responsibility ourselves. We're on a trip that we didn't necessarily buy the ticket for but taking appropriate action ourselves can give us a sense of power or ability to at least control the speed of the engine.

Knowing what action to take might require the ability to really look at ourselves in the 'bathroom mirror' to be able to identify what we truly need. That might take a bit of courage because we may not necessarily like what we see at the time.

There will be obstacles on the track which can take our attention away. The trip can be made smoother by not spending our energies resisting the obstacles or bumps, but instead, acknowledging them and travelling head on through them.

We can learn from the trip rather than from just reading the brochures and get to our destinations a little wiser as a result.

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Arlene Zayas
564 days ago

Hi Ellen, I was diagnosed 5 years ago. I was so scared I had a sister that died of Hodgekins desease. I saw go from a beautiful women to a really thin women. When the doctor told me I had breast cancer she was all I thought of. My doctor told me it wasn't a death sentence and I am going to be ok. I went through chemo and radiation with flying colors. I am 72 years old now and I still work and feeling fine. I have three children 8 grandchildren and 1 greatgrandchild. You have to have faith and believe you are going to make it. I watch your show all the time and sometimes I cry. I do laugh more than cry. Thanks for listening, arlene

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Kimberley Lefebvre
564 days ago

Thank you Ellen for supporting Breast Cancer and for the many laughs I am a two time breast cancer survivor and only 48 years old. It is only by sharing our stories and supporting each other as woman that we will get through this diagnosis.

You crack me up and are at the same time a great role model and advocate for woman.

Please keep making people laugh it keeps some alive.

Hugs

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Shirley Rodriguez
567 days ago

Today you asked about cancer survivor story. Well my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer sadly when her husband was fighting for his own battle with a rare thyroid cancer. She did all the chemo treatments while he was also going thru his treatments. It was so hard to see two people struggle with cancer, let alone the shock of her being diagnosed while trying to nurse him. Unfortunately he passed after a 2 year battle. She is a survivor. It has been 8 years since her treatment. I am so happy she is asuvivor. Boy has this been an awakening experience. So happy she is with us today. Thank you
From a loving sister. Shirley

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