Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center

Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center

The Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center at Frederick Community College provides information, resources, and referrals about early detection of breast cancer, conventional and alternative treatment, aftercare, and nutrition.

Anne-Lynn established the Resource Center in 2001 with the assistance of the FCC Foundation, Inc.  As a cancer survivor herself, she wanted to share what she had learned to help others in their quest for information.

 

“Women must be their own healthcare advocates. The Breast Cancer Resource Center is a safe haven for women and men to look at all their choices, whether conventional or alternative. Information is power when being proactive with the challenges of breast cancer diagnosis.” - Anne-Lynn Gross

 


 

Scholarship Information


The FCC Foundation offers the Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center Scholarship each fall and spring to an FCC student who has been diagnosed with and treated for cancer. Funds raised over the years through donations and fundraising efforts have been designated to support this scholarship. To be eligible, applicant must be a Frederick County resident who is currently in or has completed cancer treatment and is pursuing a minimum of three credits toward a degree or certificate, in good academic standing with financial need. Recipient is required to write a thank you letter to the donor. For information on how to apply, contact the FCC Foundation.

 

Printed Resources

 

Books
 
  • 10 Best Questions for Surviving Breast Cancer: The Script You Need to Take Control of Your Health, a book by Dede Bonner, PhD, foreword by Dr. Marisa C. Weiss, 2008
  • 100 Questions & Answers About Breast Cancer, a book by Zara Brown, Lasalle D. Leffall, Jr., MD with Elizabeth Platt, foreword by: Senator Dianne Feinstein, 2003
  • 100 Questions and Answers About Breast Cancer, a book by Zora K. Brown, Harold D. Freeman, MD, with Elizabeth Platt, 2007
  • 8 Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body's Natural Healing Power, a book by Andrew Weil, MD, 1997
  • A Breast Cancer Journey, a book by the American Cancer Society, 2001
  • A Dieticians Cancer Story, Information & Inspiration for Recovery & Healing, a book by Diana Dyer, MS, RD, 2002
  • A Safe Place: a Journal for Women with Breast Cancer, a book by Jennifer Pike, 1999
  • A Spiritual Guide Through Breast Cancer: Strength for Today Hope for Tomorrow, a book by Judy Asti, 2002
  • After Breast Cancer: Answers to the Questions You're too Afraid to Ask, a book by Musa Mayer, 2003
  • An Introduction to Journaling and "My Healing Companion", an audio book Beverly Kirkhart, 2004
  • Be a Survivor: Your Guide to Breast Cancer Treatment, a book by Vladimir Lange, MD, 2007 (3rd , [2] 4th Edition)
  • Body & Soul: The Courage and Beauty of Breast Cancer Survivors, a book by Jean Karotkin, 2004
  • Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter on Breast Health and Cancer, a book by Rosie O'Donnell, Deborah Axelrod, MD, FACS & Tracey Chutorian Selmer, 1999
  • Breakthrough: 8 Steps to Wellness, a book by Suzanne Somers, 2008
  • Breast Cancer and Me, a book by Lois Olmstead, 1996
  • Breast Cancer for Dummies, a book by Ronit Elk, PhD & Monica Morrow, MD, 2003 (3 Copies)
  • Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and yourself) Through Diagnosis, Treatment, and Beyond, a book by Marc Silver, foreword by Medical Oncologist Frederick Smith, MD
  • Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook: Understanding the Disease, Treatments, Emotions, and Recovery from Breast Cancer, a book by Judy C. Kneece, RN, OCN, 2009 (7th Edition)
  • Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing, an audio tape by Andrew Weil, M.D., 1999
  • Cancer Resource Guide, a book by Cancer Updates, Research, and Education, 2010 (2011 Edition)
  • Cancer Survivors Nutrition and Health Guide: Eating Well and Getting Better During and After Cancer Treatment, a book by Gene Spiller, PhD, & Bonnie Bruce, Dr. PH., R.D, 1997
  • Cancer Wars: How Politics Shape What We Know and Don't Know About Cancer, a book by Robert N. Proctor, 1995
  • Cancer: A Medical a Spiritual Guide for Patients and Their Families, a book by William A. Fintel, MD & Gerald R. McDermmott, PhD, 2004
  • Cancer: There's Hope, a book by Richard & Annette Bloch. 1996
  • Choices in Breast Cancer Treatment: Medical Specialists and Cancer Survivors Tell You What you Need to Know, a book by Kenneth D. Miller, MD, 2008
  • Comprehensive Cancer Care Integrating Alternative, Complementary, and Conventional Therapies, a book by James S. Gordon, MD, and Sharon Curtin, 2000
  • Definitive Guide to Cancer, a book by W. John Diamond, MD, W. Lee Cowden, MD & Burton Goldberg, 1997
  • Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, a book by Susan M. Love, MD, Karen Lindsey, 2000 (1st, 2nd, [3] 3rd, 4th edition)
  • Eating Well through Cancer, a book by Holly Clegg & Gerald Miletello, MD, 2001 (2 Copies)
  • Everyday Strength: A Cancers Guide to Spiritual Survival, a book by Randy Becton, foreword by Dave Dravecky, 1989 (2 Copies)
  • First, You Cry, a book by Betty Rollin, 2000
  • For the Women We Love: A Breast Cancer Action Plan and Caregivers Guide for Men, a book by Matthew J. Loscalzo, MSW & Marc Heyison, 2007
  • Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Coping With the Cost of Care, a book by Cancer Support Community, 2014 (5th Edition)
  • Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Coping With the Cost of Care, a book by Cancer Support Community, 2010
  • Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Take Control of Side Effects with Medicine, Mind, and Body, a book by Cancer Support Community, 2011 ([2]5th Edition)
  • Frankly Speaking about Cancer: Treatments and Side Effects, a book by Cancer Support Community, 2014 ([2] 6th Edition)
  • Frankly Speaking about Cancer: What Do I Tell the Kids? Spotlight Series, a book by Cancer Support Community, 2014
  • Frankly Speaking About Cancer: When a Woman You Care About has breast Cancer, a book by The Wellness Community, 2009
  • Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Your Immune System and Cancer Treatment, a book by Cancer Support Community, 2014
  • Healing Outside the Margins: The Survivors Guide to Integrative Caner Care, a book by Carole O'Toole with Carolyn B. Hendricks, MD, Medical Assistant, 2002
  • Health Wisdom for Women: Complete Library 1994-2004, a computer CD Rom by Phillips Health, LLC, 1997
  • Hearing the Stream: A Survivors Journey into the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer, a book by Diane Lane Chambers, foreword by Jodi A Chambers, MD, F.A.C.S
  • Hope Lives! The After Breast Cancer Treatment Survival Handbook, a book by Margit Esser Porter, 2000
  • How to Fight Cancer & Win, a book by William L. Fischer, foreword by Leslie H. Salov, MD, 2000
  • "I Flunked My Mammogram!" What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer NOW!, a book by Ernie Bodai, MD & Richard A. Zmuda, 2001
  • It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, a book by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins, 2002
  • Journey of Hope: Couples Speak Out About Breast Cancer, a video & journal published by Samsung Telecommunications America & Sprint PCS, 2000
  • Living and Working: Living and Working With Cancer Workbook, a book by Cosmetic Executive Women Foundation, cancerandcareers.org (2 Copies)
  • Living Beyond Breast Cancer: A Survivors Guide For When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins, a book by Marisa C. Weiss, MD & Ellen Weiss, 1998
  • Living Through Breast Cancer, a book by Carolyn M. Kaelin, MD, MPH 2005
  • Living Well With Cancer: A nurse Tells You Everything You Need to Know About Managing the Side Effects of Your Treatment, a book by Katen Moore, MSN, RN, NP-C, AOCN
  • More Natural "Cures" Revealed: Previously Censored Brand Name Products That can Cure Diseases, a book by Kevin Trudeau, 2006
  • My Breasts; an audio tape by Joyce Wadler, 1994
  • My Healing Companion, a book by Katherine Kirkhart, 2001
  • Navigating Breast Cancer: A Guide to the Newly Diagnosed, a book by Lillie Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, 2007
  • Not now! I'm Having a No Hair Day, a book by Christine Clifford, 1996
  • Plant a Geranium in your Cranium: Sprouting Seeds of Joy in the Manure of Life, a book by Barbra Johnson, 2002
  • Recovery from Cancer, a book by Elaine Nussbaum
  • Relax this Won't Hurt: Painless Answers to the Women's Most Pressing health Questions, a book by Judith Reichman, MD, 2000
  • Stopping Cancer Before It Starts, a book by The American Institute for Cancer Research's Program for Cancer Prevention, 1999
  • Surviving Cancer, a book by Dee Simmons, 2001
  • The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet, an audio tape by Dr. Bob Arnot, 1998
  • The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet: The powerful Foods, Supplements, and Drugs That can Save Your Life, a book by Dr. Bob Arnot, 1998
  • The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan, a book by Carolyn M Kaelin, MD, MPH, 2007
  • The Cancer Breakthrough You've Never Heard Of. A book by Richard A. Evans. MD, 2000
  • The First Step to Cancer Survival, a book and audio book by National Coalition for Cancer Survivors, 2010
  • The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty, a book by Judith McKay, RN, OCN & Nancee Hirano, RN. MS, AOCN, 1998 (3 Copies)
  • The Human Side of Cancer: Living With Hope, Coping With Uncertainty, a book by Jimmie C. Holland, MD, and Sheldon Lewis, 2000
  • The Wisdom of the Body, a book by Sherwin B. Nuland, 1997
  • Thriving After Breast Cancer, a book by Sherry Lebed Davis with Stephanie Gunning, 2002
  • Understanding Breast Cancer and Treatment Options: A Guidebook for Patients and Caregivers, a book by Astra Zeneca, 2008
  • Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors, a book by Barbara Delinsky, 2001
  • Vitamins: Herbs, Minerals & Supplements - The Complete Guide, a book by H. Winter Griffith, MD, 1998
  • When Life Becomes Precious: A Guide for Loved Ones and Friends of Cancer Patients, a book by Elise NeeDell Babcock, 1997
  • Why Me? Why Now? Finding Hope When You Have Breast Cancer, a book by Lorraine V. Murray, 2003
  • Women Are Not Small Men: Life-Saving Strategies for Preventing and Healing Heart Disease in Women, a book by Nieca Goldberg, MD, 2002
  • Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, a book by Christiane Northrup, MD, 1998
  • You Can Do This! Surviving Breast Cancer Without Losing Your Sanity or Your Style, a book by Elisna Daniels and Kelley Tuthill with Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, foreword by Evelyn M. Lauder, 2009
  • Your Life In Your Hands: Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer, a book by Jane A. Plant, PhD, 2000

 


 

Online Resources

 

Advocacy and Research

Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Fund
Breast Cancer.Org
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
National Breast Cancer Coalition
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
SHARE Cancer Support
Sisters Network, Inc.
Susan G. Komen
Think Before You Pink
 

 

Aftercare

American Society of Clinical Oncology - Survivorship
Breast Cancer.org
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation - Living With-And After Breast Cancer
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation - Survivorship
 

 

General Information About Breast Cancer

American Breast Cancer Foundation
American Cancer Society
American Institute for Cancer Research
Breast Cancer Care-UK
Breast Cancer Lighthouse
BreastCancer.Org
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
HealingWell.Com
Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Mautner Project
National Breast Cancer Foundation
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Nueva Vida - website in Spanish
Sisters Network
Susan G. Komen
Susan Love MD Research Foundation
The Breast Cancer Site
TheBreastCareSite.Com
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
 

Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Mayo Clinic
National Cancer Institute

Lymphedema
National Lymphedema Network

Metastatic Breast Cancer
METAvivor Research and Support Program
Metastatic Breast Cancer Information and Support
 

 

Breast Cancer Information for Young Women

B-CAUSE (a support group for young women diagnosed with breast cancer in the Harford County area) 410-515-6400
Boarding for Breast Cancer Foundation
Stupid Cancer
Living Beyond Breast Cancer - Young Survivors
MedicineNet.com
Hope for Two
WebMD
Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
Young Survival Coalition
 

 

Breast Cancer Information for Men

American Cancer Society
Breast Cancer.Org
Imaginis - Breast Cancer in Men
Mayo Clinic
National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
Susan G. Komen
 

 

Prevention and Detection

American Breast Cancer Foundation
BreastCancer.org
Breast Cancer Prevention
Detailed Breast Cancer Risk Calculator
FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
Frederick County Health Department Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program
Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
National Breast Cancer Foundation
National Cancer Institute - Breast Cancer Home Page
TheBreastCancerSite.com
 

 

Support Resources

General Support Resources
American Cancer Society
Asian American Cancer Support Network
B-CAUSE (a support group for young women diagnosed with breast cancer in the Harford County area) 410-515-6400
Breast Cancer Awareness - Cumberland Valley
Breast Cancer Lighthouse
Breast Cancer Support
BreastCancer.org
TheBreastCareSite.com
Cancer and Careers
Cancer Care
HealingWell.com
HER2 Support
Hospice Foundation of America
Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
KidsCope
Lance Armstrong Foundation
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Med Help International Breast Cancer Forum
Men Against Breast Cancer
Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer
National Cancer Institute
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Pink-Link
Pro Bono Counseling Project
SHARE
Sharsheret
Side-Out Foundation
Susan Love MD Research Foundation
TheBreastCareSite.com

Prostheses, Post-mastectomy, and Lymphedema Products
Jodee
LympheDIVAS
Softee
"tlc" Tender Loving Care - American Cancer Society
 

 

Treatment Resources

American Cancer Society
American College of Radiology Mammography Accreditation
Annie Appleseed Project
Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR)
BreastCancer.org
Cancer Survival Toolbox - Provided by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP)
Center for Mind Body Medicine
Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups, Inc.
HealingWell.com
Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
Mayo Clinic
National Cancer Institute-Breast Cancer Home Page
National Cancer Institute-Clinical Trials
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine National Institutes of Health
National Comprehensive Cancer Network
National Institutes of Health Clinical Trials
Patient Resource
Susan Love MD Research Foundation
TheBreastCancerSite.com (Registration Required)
University of Pittsburg Cancer Institute
Windber Medical Center
 

 

Anne-Lynn's Bio and Story


Anne-Lynn Gross, the only “Singing Auctioneer” in the United States, was the first woman to become an auctioneer in Maryland. She was also the first woman auctioneer in Maryland to receive Certified Auctioneers Designation (CAI) as well as the first woman in the nation to serve on the National Auctioneers Foundation Board. At each auction, Anne-Lynn began with a signature song written especially for her by New York composer, John Lehmann: “Last Call---Sold!”

Anne-Lynn sang at the Grand Ol’ Opry, and appeared on the television show “To Tell the Truth”. The summer of 2005 she sang the National Anthem for 3,000 international women attendees at the Zonta International Convention in New York City. Anne-Lynn also contributed her auctioneer expertise to charitable organizations, for example, raising over $150,000 for the American Diabetes Association.

Anne-Lynn was born and raised in Brunswick, Frederick County, Maryland. She was a member of Zonta, and a charter member of two local singing organizations, The Frederick Chorale and One God, One Voice. In 2001, Anne-Lynn worked with Frederick Community College and the Frederick Community College Foundation to establish a breast cancer resource center on FCC’s campus. In July 2004, Anne-Lynn celebrated her fifth year cancer-free. Sadly, Anne-Lynn lost her battle with cancer in November, 2014.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 250,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and more than 63,000 will be diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer in 2017. The Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center, which is open to the community, is stocked with a computer, books, pamphlets, and magazines, covering topics such as prevention, early detection, diagnosis, conventional and alternative treatment options, after care, emotional impact, and nutrition. Anne-Lynn described the center as a “Safe Haven,” where anyone, patients, families, or friends, may come to read about and better understand this disease.

Anne-Lynn's Story
 
April 1999

One of the last things I remember happening in early 1999 was the passing of King Hussein of Jordan - everything else was a blur. Why? Because in the scheme of things, nothing else mattered - I found a lump in my right breast.

My mind began reeling with the possibilities: the what if, why me, what am I going to do? My folks were gone, along with many relatives and friends. I called my dearest friend of 20 years and told her.

Then, I scheduled my mammogram.

I had the mammogram and was taken back in for another mammogram on the tip of the tip of my right breast - talk about pain! After the mammogram, I was told I needed an ultrasound for a clearer view. At this point I began to think the worst diagnosis was possible. But I wanted to know then: Why not an ultrasound in the first place? Instead of scheduling it for two weeks out, I told the radiologists let's go for it now. So I waited an hour - hey, I wanted to know - keep the ball rolling.

I stayed for the results of the ultrasound, even though my friend was waiting to meet me at a restaurant. Another hour later, I heard what in my soul and body I already knew - I had a suspicious lump in the upper part of my right breast. The radiologist was kind and considerate - using the ultrasound pictures, he pointed out and explained things to me.

I left, scared and frightened - 3 hours late to meet my friend. By now I was thinking the worst - breast cancer. So far, this seemed like my longest day - but this was just the beginning.
 

 

May 1999

Next step - biopsy.

After talking quietly to nurses, patient advocates and a few close friends, my list of surgeons narrowed to two. Then noticing the consistency of positive comments for one, I chose my doctor for the biopsy. He said we could schedule it in a week, but fighting on, I said how about now? He answered that if I could wait a few hours, he would do it.

After the biopsy, the surgeon felt 95% sure I had cancer, but I would have to wait a week for the lab results.

Music helped me through: I was in a performance of Mendelssohn's great oratorio Elijah, about a prophet of God who remained strong, in the face of ridicule and persecution.

The results would come on June 2, 1999 - the day before an annual performance of "Sentimental Journey," at the Weinberg Center, for which I selected music and coordinated rehearsals. With this show, my musical friends and I have raised funds each year for the Thelma Gross Music Scholarship Fund, named in honor of my mother, who had been a Frederick County music teacher for 30 years.

At this point, very few people knew what was going on with me. I didn't want it to go any further until I had the results. In the meantime, I was reading, and also had help from a friend who was on the internet. But, even though I was gathering information for procedures, my thoughts and emotions were all over the map: Would I make it? Is this really happening?

All around me, my world seemed to be crashing. This is when I needed to talk about this with my closest friend and also to my adopted "mom," who was a registered nurse. Having these strong people around me was imperative. When I was upset, they never took it as a personal affront. I also talked to my mother in heaven, in whose name we were rehearsing, and sought guidance.

We were approaching the end of May and I'd had two consults, a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. My mind was a whirlwind: from denial to the worst.

Fortunately, rehearsals were going on for the show. Singing has always been an integral part of my life, and doing the songs of the 20's, 30's, and 40's was, for me, a magical, musical experience.
 

 

June 1999

June 2, 1999
4:30 pm: I got the call from the surgeon: I had breast cancer. Even now, the shaking, weak feeling I had revisits me. I got information for pre-surgical tests and scheduled an appointment to make my decision. I had rehearsal that evening - a Thursday, I believe.

Looking back on all this is still difficult - almost as though it is happening now.


June 3, 1999
The next night, June 3, was the "Sentimental Journey" show. What energies were going through me - from being excited about the show to being anxious about the future? Only one person in the show knew of my situation; I simply wanted the show to be the focus - wanted it to go well - my friends and I had practiced for months. And it did! However, I gave the performance of my life - I knew it might be my last.

After the show was over, I continued my fight in earnest.

I read all that I could: along with information from the American Cancer Society, I did further research on the value and uses of vitamins and herbs, as well as nutrition. Friends helped by garnering the latest information form the internet. I also spoke with doctors and specialists, taking notes, names, and ideas.

Getting out to walk helped me think things through, but thinking rationally became hard, if not impossible at times. Sometimes it felt like there was no foundation to hold me up. From nowhere, shaking from the depths of the soul take over, along with bouts of crying.

I learned to simply get through the moments - the why me's, what if's. But, these thinking choices didn't happen overnight - they evolved.


June 4-14, 1999
 
Days went by so slowly and yet so quickly. Still searching for doctors' names - from cancer surgeon to possibly a reconstructive surgeon, I also talked with patient advocates, nurses, and other doctors. The point is that I wanted to be comfortable with who was doing the operation. After interviewing doctors, I found a fine surgeon. After talking with him and learning that I had the option of removing one or both breasts, I decided to remove both.
 
After asking for opinions, next I located a reconstructive surgeon. I interviewed him and together we decided that if possible, I would have the reconstructive surgery done immediately after the double mastectomy. Finally, after asking around, I also chose my anesthesiologist. I then had a choice of two surgery dates, Wednesday or Friday. I chose Friday so that I would have several recuperation days before a weekend staff took over at the hospital. Pre-surgical tests were scheduled and the date for surgery was booked - July 14, 1999.
 

 

July 1999

July 14, 1999
 
After the double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I learned of my Stage Three prognosis and the journey to come.
 

 

After July 14, 1999

Because I live alone, I stayed with a dear friend for ten days, who took care of me. I was not used to depending on others for this much help. I had to rely on others and pray that they, with God's help, would get me through.

I left the hospital to go to my friend's house with four drains in my breasts. I did light exercise - walking slowly in the back yard. With only one usable hand, I found that it took me 15 minutes to even make a sandwich.

At this juncture, I also had to fight to find out about follow up treatment. I had to become knowledgeable quickly: the clock was ticking; my investigations took one month and the clock was ticking. I was supposed to begin high potency chemotherapy 8 weeks from the surgery.

After discussions with top doctors and oncologists, I found two oncologists, who like me, were open to alternative treatments integrated with standard treatment. Vitamins and herbs became a regimen. Chemotherapy looked imminent, so I got things lined up for the treatment.

The first step in chemotherapy was minor surgery: a catheter was placed on the left side of my neck, connected to a large artery. At this point, reality really hit me - because I was in Stage Three, I would be given some very high potency drugs. Hair loss, nausea - so many challenges ahead, it was overwhelming at times. What did I do to deserve this?

At this point, my life took on a new shape: I gave away my upcoming auctions to several auctioneers. I walked each day, took vitamins and herbs, and ate balanced meals - natural foods. My life had been altered, but friends were and are a constant.

I went to a beauty parlor after my first treatment; I thought it wise to cut my hair short before it fell out. I found two wigs - this was so tough - just the thought of being bald. After the third treatment, I had no hair. It’s hard to say how vulnerable I felt. My thoughts were sometimes nearly out of control, but I plowed on, remembering to stay focused, even though it was not easy to do.

Living from day to day, then week to week was my focus. Meanwhile, I recited the words "The Body in Me is Cancer Free" like a broken record. With each hit of chemo, I deliberately pictured Pac Man, thinking, "Pac Man, do your thing - kill the bad cells!"

Each week I had blood test to monitor my white blood cell counts. My final chemo treatment was a celebration - the nurses and my oncologist had become my friends, who helped me keep reality in check and rooted for the best.

After several weeks, my next step was radiation. I had my radiology oncologist confer with my reconstructive surgeon on what needed to be done. Teamwork is important, especially when it involves your life! Next came 28 treatments on three areas of my right breast. Each point was marked on me and setting up the equipment was precise and intense. Radiation - day in, day out.

Time still crept along, but I was on the other side of the mountain - hooray! With friends still hanging in there - keeping in touch - I began to feel some strength returning. I was told not to push it - to keep a low-stress life-style: nature needed time to heal my body.
 

 

5 Years Later

People ask me: How did you get through the surgery, the chemo, the radiation?

My strategy was to take it one step at a time. Incredibly, it works.

There are dates that are still very strong for me: July 14, 1999, mastectomy and reconstruction surgery; September 7, 1999, surgery for installation of catheter; September 9, 1999, first chemotherapy treatment; January 28, 2000, last day of radiation; February 14, 2000, began taking Tamoxifen. July 14, 2004, my fifth anniversary of being cancer free!

In between the memorable dates, I set mini-goals and kept my focus on each one, one at a time. I consciously worked to acquire a stable life of thought processes, emotional control, and faith. I learned I had to go through the process - deal with it, work it out for myself, look at the whole picture before making a decision. Fortunately, I had parents who gave me wisdom and taught me the value of independence and stability. I began to take the bull by the horns and grow stronger, taking control of my existence.

What did I learn through all of this? I learned that work and organizations are not my number #1 priority; the value of living is. I look about me now and see people caught up in a maze that offers no time for what really counts.

Now, when I hear ads about how we don't have time to cook, or don't have time for a headache, I want to scream: hey, these are important - cooking feeds the soul as well as the body; headaches are a warning to take time out. Make time for these things and make time to keep in touch with friends, no more, "Has it been that long since I've seen you?"

Time is short. But life can be sweet, we just need to taste it. Instead, help someone across the street, open a door for someone, let someone go ahead of you in the grocery line (they have 2 items and you have 10!), say thank you, and take time to pray. For me life is about friends, music, and low stress work that I love. I have found the recipe that works for me.

Recipe for Difficult Times:

God
Family and Friends
Information
The Ability to Scream - throw things! Get it out!
The Best Doctors
Inner Strength - Faith

Mix well. Then, stand up strong, and even when the knees are weak and the body is weak, walk forward.
 

 

2007 Cancer Revisited

When my annual blood test results were read, my CA 27 29 numbers were escalated - above normal markings. The light was on, so next step: PET Scan, MRI, Bone scan. Being stage three, my chances of metastasizing were strong. Still, with all this, I was a bit set back - almost felt as I did in 1999. Got the results: it had hit in my bones - so, on to research. I learned that there are three possible areas that were from Breast Cancer: the Liver, Lungs, and in the bones. Oh my God - help me.


After my Oncologist appointment, I talked with Jane Garvin, nurse at FCC and champion leader at my Breast Cancer support group - she concurred with the Oncologist in that immediate action be taken, but treat this as a chronic illness; most importantly, stay on top of this!!!!! This was were the Anne-Lynn Gross Breast Cancer Resource Center came in handy. Research on options definitely was at the forefront!!!


Along with vitamins and herbs as my continued daily routine came aromatase inhibitors - Femera, which lowered my numbers for awhile, then it was not effective. Next was Aromasin - for me, it didn't help at all. So, chemotherapy was next, a drug called Xeloda. It was Fall, 2008, my numbers were at their highest ever for me, and the Bone Scan showed further 'spots' in the bone - so, onward with the chemo - this one was available both in infusion, or pill form. I chose pills, after learning that either way, the effect was the same. My chances that it would help me was just under 40%. I did research on this drug - it was approved by the FDA in early 2000's. Needless to say, these months of uncertainty were challenging, to say the least.


By the first of January, 2009, I got the latest numbers: they dropped some 29 points---HOORAY!!!! I was one of the 'lucky' ones. Now the side effects have included fatigue and my hands feel like a sprained elbow and hurt when I hold a glass of ice water, but hey, if the drug is working--I have spoken out about this and, through research, have learned that more help is needed for those who are of the next level of challenge--we have to keep plugging along and keep educating folks about metastatic Cancers. Friends and acquaintances have prayer lines going--the positive energy is invaluable. By the way, my numbers again dropped in February and on March 2, 2009, I turned 62-- Whoo Hoo!  

 

March 2012

Since 2009, I have had three birthdays. The first being "63 - The Best to Be" as my slogan for the year 2010! Next in 2011 came 64, my numbers were still good with Xeloda and my new slogan was "I'm 64 - who could ask for more?" Then in the summer my numbers shot higher and the Xeloda was becoming less effective. My oncologist decided to put me on an injection once a month called Faslodex. I was on this for four months and it did not prove effective. This is part of the practice of medicine, I guess. So in November of 2011, after a CAT scan the cancer had spread from the bone to the liver. It was decided that I needed a liver biopsy to see if the estrogen positive had shifted to estrogen negative. I learned that in approximately 20% of cases there can be a shift from one to the other. The results were no change for me which was a blessing and a Christmas gift given me in early December. On December 29 I began infusions of Taxol - once a week, three treatments. Then I took a two-week break until the next three treatments. I had a blood test done after the first treatment, my numbers went up, but I was told they should level off and go south as treatment continues. My second test proved the leveling off effect. So presently I'm on my fourth treatment and feeling better than I did in December, both physically and mentally. I have had my moments of doubt and mortality issues, but folks this is normal. I thank God for all the good friends, support, medical help, and strength of mind. Today, March 2 is my 65th birthday and my new slogan is - "I'm 65 and alive!!" Maintaining a positive approach to all the challenges that have been placed before me is the way to deal 99 44/100% of the time. We all have varying challenges in our lives, and the road is not easy, but it is all in how we approach the situations. One side effect I am dealing with from the chemo is the loss of my hair. You know what - it ain't half bad being bald. And the feeling in the shower-ooh la la!! Pity or party, which would you choose?
 

 

July 2012

April 17 - I had my CA 27 29 test. It was over 550. On April 20, had a CAT scan which showed that a couple of spots in the liver had doubled in size, so the Taxol stopped working (didn't work for Jan-Mar). Put on another chemo called Halavan starting May 3. This stuff was a lot stronger. Then, I had another chemo treatment on the 10th, the next day on the 11, a shot of Neulasta. This was given to help with the white blood counts. Well, two weeks later, started the next treatment of Halavan. Following week, I couldn't, because I had gotten poison ivy and they had to treat that. Then I started treatment again on 6/6 of Halavan, then on the 14th, saw Dr. Hamden. The Blood test that I had on 6/13 came back with my numbers really down, it was down to 342. The Neulasta shot really knocked me out. So, the decision was not to do the shot. Then had a few weeks off. Started treatment again on 6/28 of Halavan, so here we go again! Side effects from Halavan are neuropathy for me, and you can hear my speaking voice has changed.
 

 

October 2012

I've had 3 blood tests in the last few months, the most recent was last week. I declined the Neulasta shot, and with a mix of herbs, my white blood count is normal! They also checked my CA 27 29 levels - they're down to 69 - 30 points above normal. This is the lowest it has been in at least 2 years. People have asked me what I'm doing, and here's what has worked for me to keep my white blood counts normal. I'm not a medical professional, this is just based on my research. I take 470 mg of Astragalus twice a day, at breakfast and at lunch, 400 mg of Echinacea once a day, and 1 ml/day of Ligustrum (liquid) divided up 3 times a day (about 14 drops).
 

 

November 2014

Sadly, Anne-Lynn lost her battle with cancer in November 2014.