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'Advocate for yourself!'

Breast cancer survivor Misti Easter shares words of wisdom

Misti Easter didn’t have an easy childhood. Her parents, Wayne and Martha McCombs, died of cancer at age 41 when she was a child, just over one year apart.

“I didn’t have a lot of time with them here on Earth, but the time I had was very impactful,” she said. “They were wonderful parents, and I have never doubted their love for me.”

At 37, Easter was diagnosed with cancer.

“I was diagnosed in March 2011 with Stage 3, triple positive breast cancer,” she shared.  

She said cancer was always in the back of her mind, but it didn’t make her diagnosis any less shocking.

“No one wants to hear the word ‘cancer.’ I did after a lumpectomy. The treatments were aggressive – major surgery, strong chemo (the nickname for the type I had was “Red Devil”), radiation and a year of monthly infusions of Herceptin,” Easter said. “The recovery process was slow and, at times, painful. I had just gotten my mortgage loan originator license, and I was determined to work, but sometimes that meant working from bed. It’s hard to explain to those around you how you feel – it’s like you’re in an exhausting fog with random pains popping up all over your body, and you want to sleep but your legs want to move from neuropathy, but you don’t want to move around much because everything makes you nauseous!”

The most important thing she wants to get across to other women: ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF!

“Demand the best care! I got my first mammogram at 36 at my OBGYN’s office. He knew my family history. I trusted this was a good thing, but I got a call a few weeks later from another department in the hospital asking me to come for a second mammogram. They assured me nothing was wrong, but explained the type of mammogram I had was the outdated film version; they wanted me to have a digital mammogram. They explained the outdated machines wouldn’t catch irregularities in most younger women due to breast density. I was a little surprised my doctor didn’t tell me this to begin with!” she said.

Easter said the digital mammogram revealed calcification spots in her left breast.

“The technician assured me this could be completely normal and explained this would be my ‘baseline’ mammogram so they could monitor any changes. She said some women just have calcification in their breasts. I was still worried, so I explained my family history. She checked with the radiologist to see if I needed further testing. They decided to wait six months. I wanted to trust the medical professionals – no one wants to hear bad news, right? I walked out in total denial thinking nothing was wrong because, if it was that big of a deal, they would have done more testing. Wrong. Nearing that six-month mark, I found the lump myself. It was right where the calcification showed up on the mammogram.

Easter said she knew it was going to be bad, but she would get through it.

“I felt God’s peace immediately. By the time the cancer was caught, I was in late Stage 3, and it had spread to lymph nodes under my left arm. Had I waited any longer, it would have progressed to Stage 4 very quickly,” she said.

“Is cancer scary? YES! Is it unbeatable? NO! Seek out the best medical care and fight like heck! Attitude is everything,” she said. “I knew I could win the battle with God by my side. I also knew where I was going if I didn’t win the battle on Earth, and that would be victory, too.”

"Please let me be an example. Know your body. If something feels off,  it probably is, so don’t ignore it."

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