Note: You will want to mute the music below prior to watching the videos.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to Salt Lake City!

This past week, I was fortunate to travel back to Salt Lake City and speak for the first time as an official part of the BRAC pack.  What an incredible experience!  Being the Type A personality that I am, I wanted to make sure that I was overly organized.  I worked countless hours on making sure that my presentation would make an impact.  My audience: new Sales Reps for Myriad Genetics.  These are the men and women who go out in the field and try to stress the importance of genetic testing to oncology and OBGYN offices.....many of which are not doing genetic testing at this time.  My job was to give these REPS an actual face and story to put with this genetic testing process.

I have spoke on several different occasions in the past......none of which have been about genetic testing.  I love to share my story with others.  This time was so different from past speaking engagements.  I found myself feeling more passionate about telling my story than I ever have.  I was not speaking to just any group.....I was speaking to individuals who have the opportunity to go out and potentially help save lives.  I wanted my presentation to leave a lasting impression on these newly seasoned sales reps.  The greatest part of the entire experience was the warmth I felt from all of them.  They were all in tune to what I was sharing and I could tell that I tugged on some of their heart strings.  Their job as a Sales Rep was no longer just "a job".  It became a mission.

I am anxiously awaiting my next opportunity to share my story......wherever that may be.  From the day I was diagnosed back on June 12th, 2008, I knew that God would use me and my journey to make a big impact someday.  I just wasn't sure how or when.  Almost 2 1/2 years later, I can now see both.  I feel as if I am fulfilling a great part of my purpose in life.  What excites me most is knowing that THE BEST IS YET TO COME and I can't wait to see what that entails!

God Bless!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This past week I traveled to Salt Lake City.  It was an INCREDIBLE trip.  I am fortunate to be a part of what is called the BRAC Pack.  The BRAC Pack is made up of a group of individuals from across the country that have been tested for the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation.  Our job is to help educate others about the importance of genetic testing and their risk for Hereditary Breast or Ovarian Cancer, also known as HBOC.  Shortly after my diagnosis of breast cancer, I was tested for the mutation.  I tested positive for BRCA 1.  BRCA mutations increase breast and ovarian cancer risks.  If you test positive for a BRCA mutation, you have up to a 50 % chance of developing breast cancer by age 50, up to an 87% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70, and up to a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer by age 70.  The statistics are outstanding.  However, they are also avoidable. 

If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, PLEASE talk to your physician or OBGYN about your risks.  I had my first mammogram at the age of 25 because my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 35 years old.  Unfortunately, no physician or OBGYN shared with me the importance of genetic testing.  At the age of 26, I gave birth to my daughter Charley.  Two years later, my husband and I were ready to add to our family.  However, that never happened.  Instead, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Hearing the words "You have breast cancer" could have been avoided.  If only at the age of 25, someone had seen my family history as concerning.  If only someone would have talked to me about the importance of genetic testing, perhaps, I could have avoided hearing the words "You have breast cancer."  I could have avoided facing death and the fear of leaving my husband and daughter.

PLEASE do yourself a favor, and talk to your physician about your family history and genetic testing.  Sometimes, you have to be your own advocate.  Unfortunately, not all physicians are as concerned about your health as you are. 

If you would like more information on genetic testing, please visit BracAnalysis, or contact me at  Also, please contact me if you or someone you know would be interested in having me share my story.  Genetic testing can potentially change the future of you or your loved ones. 

I feel so blessed to be a part of something so great!  My hope is that I will be able to share my story with women....AND men....all over the world, and that in doing so, more and more lives will be impacted and potentially saved from ever hearing the words...."You have breast cancer."

God Bless!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gearing up for Utah

Whew!  It has been a hectic couple of weeks around the Wasson house.  We have been busy, busy, busy!  Just last night I asked Ryan what happened to the relaxing days of summer?  It seems that ever since Charley started back to preschool that our lives have been going full speed.  Although things are somewhat crazy, I cherish each day for the simple fact that I am alive and have been blessed with another matter how crazy!

Next week I will be leaving for Salt Lake City, Utah for my training as a patient speaker for Myriad Genetic Testing Lab.  I will be joined by 10 - 15 other women who have also tested positive the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2.  I am so excited for this opportunity!  It is incredibly bittersweet!  I realize that this opportunity came to be because I was diagnosed with breast cancer.....something that NO woman should have to face.  However, I have always been a positive person when it comes to my breast cancer journey and believe that I have been healed because God has great things planned for my life.  I am now seeing a glimpse into those GREAT things.

Whether it is breast cancer, divorce, or the death of a loved one, we will all face tragedy in our lives.  I believe that within every tragedy, there is anopportunity to make a difference.  I made the choice to Rise Up and use my tragedy to hopefully encourage and inspire women from all over the world......and you can do the same thing!

I can't wait to share all the details of my trip to Utah with all of you!  Here I come Park City!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blessed with another BIRTHDAY!

Our age signifies so much about our life.  Here are some examples:

1.  I met Ryan when I was 14.
2.  I started dating Ryan when I was 15.
3.  I married Ryan when I was 22.
4.  I gave birth to Charley when I was 26.
5.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 28.

We remember events from our life based on our age.  I NEVER thought that when I turned 28 years old, I would be diagnosed with breast cancer later that year.  I wonder what the age 31 will bring?  There are some great things happening in my life right now and I have to admit, I am so happy with all that God is doing.  One of the consistent slogans at the church I attend is "The Best is Yet to come."  I love believing that THE BEST IS YET TO COME! 

I have no way of knowing what this year will bring.  However, the one thing I do know is that I have been blessed with an incredible family.  I have the most wonderful and supportive husband.  Ryan is truly my best friend.  I have an incredible daughter who absolutely loves life.  I have two incredible parents who have helped mold me into the person I am today.

So, here's to another cancer-free birthday! 
May this year be full of blessings, for THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Being Your Own ADVOCATE

 Being diagnosed with cancer taught me a lot of things.  One of the greatest things it taught me was the importance of being my own advocate.  You can't exactly treat cancer with an antibiotic.  If you go to the doctor for a sinus infection and the doctor prescribes medicine, you may or may not take it.  Regardless, the sinus infection will more than likely go away over time.  Cancer is different.  The majority of society knows little to nothing about the complexity of cancer and what drugs are necessary to fight it off.  With that being said, cancer patients tend to trust their physicians without asking a lot of questions.  I mean.....what do we know?  THEY must know what methods will work best in fighting this deadly disease.  Our life is in THEIR hands. Since my diagnoses I have met numerous women who have found a lump in their breast and because they were "to young to be diagnosed with breast cancer", they were told to keep an eye on it over the next few months.  For women without a family history or who are uneducated about the risk of developing breast cancer, this may not seem like an unreasonable request.  They trust their physician knows best and they are given the confidence and comfort that it is more than likely nothing to worry about......and in most cases, this is true.  However, there are women who are not as fortunate.  They wait, they watch, and a follow-up appointment leads to devastating news.  The small lump that was there a few months ago, has grown, possibly spread,  and is in fact....breast cancer.

Although I had a strong family history, I too was told that the lump I had discovered was more than likely nothing more than a fibroadenoma.  I found comfort in the fact that my doctor believed it was nothing more....despite a grandmother who had died from the disease and a mother that had been diagnosed almost exactly 20 years earlier.  An ultrasound led to a mammogram, a mammogram to a biopsy, and a biopsy to a breast cancer diagnosis.  All of sudden, that same doctor who had given me the confidence that I had nothing to worry about was now telling me that the prognosis of a woman my age diagnosed with breast cancer was not good.  That was 2 1/2 years ago.....and here I am, alive and well.  I think the prognosis is better than what he assumed it to be.  However, I might stand corrected had I not insisted on getting a mammogram.  I cannot speculate what might have been, however, I can compare my own circumstances to those who have been told they are to young to get breast cancer, and are now in the fight of their life. 

This posting is not meant to speak against those in the medical profession.  I credit all those involved in my journey to helping save my life.  Whether you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or not, the thing I want all women to remember is that YOU are your own advocate.  YOU know your body.  A lump in your breast is not normal.  Does it mean it's cancer?  Not necessarily.  But wouldn't you rather know that it's not cancer, than to wait and take the chance of it being something much more serious.?  No one can physically fight breast cancer for you.  The physicians can administer the drugs, the surgeons can remove your breasts.....but at the end of day, you are still the one left fighting.  Do not settle for less than the best.  Every woman has something to live for.  If you are not receiving the care that you know you deserve, it's time to find that team of doctors that will support you. 

If you are a young woman, don't wait to do your self-exams.  Start now.   You are NOT to young to develop breast cancer.  Your odds might be less, but the fact is, young women are being diagnosed everyday.  Take control of YOUR circumstances and YOUR life.  Those who are closest to you and love you will thank you for BEING YOUR OWN ADVOCATE!   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words of Encouragement

Last night I decided to take a journey down memory lane and I began reading my blog from the very beginning.  As I read each posting, it was hard for me to believe that I was reading about MY journey with breast cancer.....and not someone else's.  I was surprised by the amount of information I was able to share and as I continued to read, I was reminded of the feelings that a newly diagnosed woman faces.  I was reminded of the outpouring of love from my husband, family, friends, and those I never even met.  I was also reminded of my faith.  Although I experienced every possible emotion throughout my journey, I knew from the very beginning that God was the only one who could heal my body, give me life, and bring me out of the pit of despair.  I also believed that God would use my journey and story of survival to bring hope to others.  Much of what strengthened me, and continues to do so today, was knowing that God was with me all the time.  I did not have to fight the battle alone. 

Since my blog always post my most recent entry first, I felt it necessary to share with those finding my blog for the first time, or perhaps those revisiting it for the hundredth time, scriptures of encouragement.  I realize that not everyone who reads this is spiritual, religious, or a believer in Christ.  However, I believe that if you are reading this posting, it is not by coincidence.  No matter your circumstance, God is the only one who can truly heal, restore, and renew.  I pray that the scriptures below will bring you comfort and encouragement. 

God Bless!!

Proverbs 3: 5-6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; and in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

John 14:18
I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.

Romans 5: 3-4
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 8:26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; and I will help you.

Matthew 6:8
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Psalm 5:8
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies-------make straight your way before me.

Psalm 139: 13-14
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful

1 Samuel 17:47
All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Philippians 4: 6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cancer CANNOT take my Spirit!!

It has been several weeks since I have posted anything....and I suppose that it is a good thing!  Life has been good and life has been.....BUSY!  Everyday I am encouraged by the number of people finding my blog, reading my blog, and sharing my blog with others.  I love knowing that God is using me to encourage others...whether that be newly diagnosed women, or those dealing with a different struggle.  Whatever it is,  I pray that God would continue to use my blog to reach those needing encouragment and hope.  When I was newly diagnosed, I came across a video on You Tube titled "Stepping Into The Ring."  I watched it daily and each time it gave me great strength.  After almost a year, I watched it again tonight.  I have to say, it gave me the same strength and encouragement as two years ago and I wanted to share it with everyone who reads my blog!  Enjoy and GOD BLESS!!!

Stepping Into the Ring by Nicole Johnson

Friday, July 16, 2010

Today I Celebrate Being a Survivor for Two Years!

Two years ago today I had a bilateral mastectomy.  It was a bitter sweet day.  Walking into the hospital at 5:30 in the morning I knew I was going in with my breasts and I would leave without them.  However, I also knew that I was walking in with cancer and would walk out cancer free.  Having the bilateral mastectomy was just the beginning of the journey.  Months of chemotherapy and reconstruction would follow.  Now, two years later, I do not look like a woman who has had breast cancer.  July 16th will always be a milestone in my life....another year of being cancer free.  Praise the Lord! 

Here are some pics that were taken the morning of my mastectomy and during my time in the hospital.

Before Surgery.....

Right after surgery.  Charley brought me one of her stuffed animals from home.

Relaxing....or trying to relax!

Charley, Me, and Ryan

Two years later!!!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Susan Komen Race 2010

Thank you God for Life and for the ability to bring hope to others!  On June 12th, I ran (ok....I ran 1/2 of the time but that is only because it was 115 degrees) in the Susan Komen Race in St. Louis. Last year was my first year to run the race and it was at that time I decided that I would participate every year that I could from that point on. Being a part of the Susan Komen Race for a Cure is amazing. There are no words to describe the number of women affected by breast cancer or the number of people who participate. This year there were nearly 72,000 participants and 3.4 million raised to end breast cancer forever! It felt so good to have Ryan and Charley there with me. Charley actually walked in the Survivor Procession with me and that was EXTRA special. If you have never participated in a Susan Komen Race, I would highly encourage you to do so...whether you have been directly affected by breast cancer or not. It is incredibly inspiring to see so many come together for an amazing cause. Below is a link to a slide show I put together of the Race. The song "I Run for Life" by Melissa Etheridge plays along with the slide show. I heard it for the first time the day of the race and it really prepared me to run (walk) 3.1 miles. You will have to watch the slide show several times to hear the entire of the song...but it's worth it!  Enjoy!

Susan Komen Race 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hope Comes From Having Purpose

After several months of neglecting this blog, I decided to pay it a visit. I was amazed by the number of people who still continue to find my blog and read about my journey. With that being said, I was disappointed in myself for not having posted anything sooner. So, for those who are currently visiting the blog.....I am here to tell you that LIFE IS GREAT!!! I have been enjoying a fun-filled summer with my daughter, Charley, and husband, Ryan. Charley turned 4 on June 29th. Two weeks before Charley turned 2 years old I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So, every birthday is a milestone. Not only is my daughter one year older, but I am one year further away from that diagnosis. Praise the Lord!

When I was first diagnosed, I chose to believe that it was for a reason. Although I was consumed with despair and feelings of fear....I really did believe that God would one day use me and my journey to make a difference. For the past two years, I have waited patiently for the Lord to open that door of opportunity and in the past few months, I have seen that door slowly begin to open. Glory to God! Just recently I received a call from Oglivy marketing firm in NY,NY. They have asked myself, along with several other women across the United States, to represent Myriad Genetic Testing as a patient speaker. I will be a part of what is called the BRCA Pack. This is a group of women who have tested positive for either the BRCA 1 or 2. Of these women, some have had cancer, some have not. Some have chosen to have prophylactic mastectomies as a preventative measure, and again, some have not. Some are like me and tested positive after they were diagnosed. The BRCA Pack represents a number of women affected in one way or another with the BRCA gene who want to share their story and be an advocate for genetic testing. In October, Ogilvy will fly me to Salt Lake City, Utah. That is where the Myriad Genetic Testing Lab is located. I will have a chance to share my story personally, meet with people from the marketing firm, and tour the lab. Once I return home, I will be used by Ogilvy to travel around the country and speak to physicians, media, and others on the importance of genetic testing along with sharing my personal story. I am so excited for this opportunity and know that it comes from God!

In addition to being a part of the BRCA pack, I am working closely with an amazing photographer on a possible project that could be life changing for those affected by breast cancer. I won't go into much detail now, as we are just in the beginning stages of the project. However, there is no doubt that God's favor is working. My prayer is that this project will bring hope to not only women affected directly by breast cancer, but hope to those who are affected indirectly. There are so many people that often get lost in the mix when a loved one or a friend is diagnosed. This project will be one that impacts husbands, children, friends, physicians, and others.

If you are reading this and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, don't give up matter where you are in your journey. I am currently reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. The following is an excerpt from his book: "Hope is essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope. Dr. Bernie Siegel found he could predict which of his cancer patients would go into remission by asking, "Do you want to live to be one hundred?" Those with a deep sense of life purpose answered yes and were the ones most likely to survive. Hope comes from having purpose." Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a horrible thing. I know first hand. However, your journey with breast cancer also gives you a great purpose in life, if you choose to believe that. God Bless!

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not harm you; plans to bring you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Back to Healthy

I am not a winter person. I LOVE fall and I LOVE Spring, but whatever that junk is in between, I am NOT a fan. Since I choose to live in the midwest where every season is very distinct, I do try and make the most of the long, cold winter. My three year old daughter thinks that the snow is AMAZING. I will admitt that it is fun to watch her face as she sleds or makes snow angels. However, it always seems our "fun" lasts about 15 minutes before she is a wet, cold mess. 15 minutes of fun when it took us at least 30 to get all our snow gear on. Oh Well.

Something else that winter does to me is takes away my enthusiasm to work-out. About a year ago I started running. I have NEVER been a runner. I was the kid in elementary school that would run a 20 min. mile and be the VERY LAST one to finish. I HATED running. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I knew that I would need to make some major changes in my life following my recovery. One of them being I needed to start exercising regularly. I live in a great neighborhood outside of the city limits where I can run and run and run. Once my body adjusted to a daily run of 2 to 3 miles, I really began to love it. My body would crave it. I was actually fortunate enough to participate in several 5K's over the next 6 months.

Then, came Old Man Winter. Running in the cold is like soaking my lungs in ice water. Therefore, I pretty much quit running for about 5 months. I know some of you are wondering why I didn't choose to go to a gym and run on a treadmill. First, going to the gym with my daughter is not an easy task and not one where I want to dish out money for childcare. The other thing is, I HATE running and not going anywhere! When I run, I want to see that I have made progress....that I'm actually getting somewhere. So, after months of little to no exercise, I feel that I am starting over. I have only run a few times in the recent weeks and I will say that this time around seemed easier than last year. I feel amazing after a good run. My goal is to get back into the swing of things and make sure that I run at least 2 miles daily. I know to some of you this sounds like very little, however to me, it is as if I am running a marathon.

I will keep you posted on my progress. My hope is that I will be able to participate in several 5K's in the coming months. I know I won't come in first, but I also know I won't be that same kid from elementary school that always came in last.

God Bless!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A New Fight

Cancer sucks. I just don't know how else to put it...well, I can think of a few other ways but I will keep those thoughts stored away in my head. I can't help but wonder what's in the water sometimes. Last week we found out that my father-in-law has throat cancer. Less than two years after my diagnosis and we are dealing with cancer in our family once again. It's just as hard to come to terms with his diagnosis as it was mine in June 2008. We do not know many of the details at this point. What we do know is that he has been told the cancer is inoperable without major disfiguartion. With that being said, Ryan and I have encouraged him and my mother-in-law to seek a second opinion.

When we first learned of his diagnosis, Ryan and I couldn't help but praise God for knowledge and wisdom. Less than two years ago I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had received treatment at one of the best cancer treatment center's in America, Siteman Cancer Treatment Center in St. Louis, MO. I had been blessed with an oncologist that believed I would survive and did everything in his power to ensure that is exactly what happened. With that being said, Ryan and I have arranged for his dad to see an oncologist at Siteman as well. We want nothing more than for him to receive the best possible care and be completely cured, both of which we know he will receive at Siteman.

When I first started this blog, the one thing I asked was that for everyone who read my blog to say a prayer for me. I have no doubt that the thousands upon thousands of prayers played a role in my complete healing. I would like to ask that anyone who reads this posting today or in the coming days or months, say a prayer for my father-in-law. His name is Roger and his wife is Sharon. We know God is faithful in his promises and we know that NOTHING is to big for God. Thank you in advance for your prayers!


"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not harm you; plans to bring you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bigger and Better

I was so relieved last January when I had finally completed my last surgery and knew I was well on my way to living a healthy life. It took several months for my new boobies to heal and for me to get a good idea of how they would look. Once they were completely healed I noticed that they seemed a little flat and wide. I thought perhaps it was just my perception of them so I of course enlisted the opinion of my husband and several girl friends. The census was out and they were indeed flat...and wide. Now, after having gone through losing my breasts at a mere 28 years old, flat and wide was not exactly what I had pictured for myself when this was all said and done. Although I new that my boobs would never look as good as the woman who gets implants and already has boobs, I expected that something could be done to improve my look.

After visiting with my plastic surgeon (whom I adore) he explained to me that the implants I currently had were called Moderate Plus Profile. Apparently these implants are used in most cases. However, since I did not have any breast tissue to support these implants, the silicone inside just seemed to kind of spread out creating a flat and wide breast. I can't imagine the image you have in your head right now! My plastic surgeon explained to me that in some cases a high profile implant can be used. This type of implant sticks out further and sits up higher on the chest. I loved the sound of that and he was convinced I would be a great candidate for this type of implant. I was now scheduled for more surgery in less than a week! So, in April of 2009 I had my first set of implants removed and expanders put back in. These expanders stretched my skin forward, rather than out to the side. They were actually expanders that are used specifically for women who choose the high profile implants. After a few months of stretching skin, I had my high-profile implants installed. I LOVE THEM!!! Not only are they better...they are bigger! Now, don't worry, they aren't Heidi Montag big. They are just perfect...but certainly bigger than what I had before this journey began.

If you are facing breast reconstruction in the future, know that there are different types of implants! The thought of getting a boob job prior to breast cancer had never even crossed my mind...ok...maybe it had crossed my mind but it wasn't an option. I was uneducated so therefore I didn't ask many questions when discussing my implant options. Make sure you know what you are getting before it's to late. For me, the worst part about it was knowing that I was racking up another $5000 in medical bills. However, I new I wouldn't be happy until my flat and wide boobies were bigger and better!

The image below shows the three different types of memory gel implants. The second implant is the one I had the first time. The third implant is the one I currently have. Can You See The Difference?

For more information on implants, click HERE!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Back!!!

A little over a year ago I made what I thought would be my last blog post. I have come back to this blog time and time again and read through my postings, sometimes not believing that what I read is MY journey. It seems unreal to think that almost two years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Wow. I continue to receive emails from women who are somehow led to my blog and are inspired. What a blessing they are to me knowing that my blog continues to serve the purpose I intended. With each new email I have often wondered if perhaps I should begin blogging again. Why not continue to offer a message of hope? There are so many wonderful things I could share since completing my journey. I am. Renewed and Refreshed. I hope all of you who joined me on my journey with breast cancer will now join me in the journey of life. I am so excited for all that God has planned and how He will continue to use my blog to bring hope to others. God Bless!!