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Cynthia Cross

A few weeks ago, my husband and I learned about your battle with breast cancer via various early morning news/talk shows such as: Good Morning America, The Today Show, and others. We were surprised to learn about your diagnosis, your current journey, and your candor regarding a seemingly private medical matter. We can only imagine how difficult it is for a public figure such as yourself, to maintain a sense of privacy during this process however, we possess nothing but admiration for your unshakable courage. We are also grateful that you've created such an amazing forum for my husband and me to share our story.

My younger sister Yavonne Noel-Miller was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 26. After battling the disease for over 21 years, she passed away, leaving behind 2 daughters, and a son. I also have two aunts on both sides of my family who are also breast cancer survivors - Blanche Henry and Juanita Lawrence.

Since breast cancer runs in my family, I’ve always been cognizant of maintaining yearly breast exams by my physician, in addition to periodic self-examinations. In fact, over the past 25 years, I have endured four lumpectomies; thankfully, each time the lumps were found to be benign. Though I have always had very dense breasts, and faithfully scheduled regular mammograms, there was something about my mammogram in March of 2013 that just didn’t seem right. Consequently, after several follow-up appointments with my radiologist and primary physician, they ordered a biopsy, and the results of which (though anticipated), were absolutely devastating. I was instructed to schedule an appointment with an oncologist, and thus my personal breast cancer journey began.

I was officially diagnosed with Stage 3a Triple Negative Breast Cancer in my right breast. A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer means that, the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth: estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene– are not present in the cancer tumor. This means that the breast cancer cells have tested negative for hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR). Since the tumor cells lack the necessary receptors, common treatments like hormone therapy and drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 are ineffective. Using chemotherapy to treat triple negative breast cancer is still an effective option. In fact, triple negative breast cancer may respond even better to chemotherapy in the earlier stages of treatment, than many other forms of cancer. However, if not caught and treated in time, the 5-year mortality rate for women diagnosed with Stage 3a Triple Negative Breast Cancer is nearly 67%!

I was informed by my team of oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, nurses, and various other staff members that, 80-90% of women facing my specific diagnosis usually recover within 12 months. They recover, and are able to pretty much live normal lives including returning to work, with very little discomfort. What I didn’t expect was, for my specific diagnosis to land me in the 10-20% of woman in my condition who don’t recover to live normal lives. In fact, every since my Double Mastectomy, my life has been everything but normal.

After having an “Access Port” installed, enduring 6 straight months of weekly chemotherapy sessions, followed by 31 straight days of radiation, I am on what seems to be a never-ending path of recovery. Approximately 4 months in to my chemotherapy treatments and battling for my life (while out on FMLA), I received a letter in the mail from my boss, informing me that he was terminating me, and that my medical benefits would automatically terminate in 30 days. Can you imagine the financial strain and consternation this caused? Coincidentally, my husband David (who was the Director of Information Technology), was also unceremoniously terminated. David was not offered a severance package either. Thankfully, our personal faith in God has sustained us in the face of this type of inexplicable adversity.

During my battle with breast cancer, I’ve had to endure a tremendous amount of daily pain. So much pain in fact that, I’ve had to solicit the assistance of a PMS (Pain Management Specialist). I am taking so many pain meds that I often don’t have an appetite, nor the desire to do anything but lay in the bed. My physical strength has been significantly diminished, and in the simple task of taking a bath often results in unbearable pain. In the past year alone, I have probably visited the ER for pain related issues at least 7 times! I have periodic bouts with depression, and some days I sit wondering if I even made the right decision to have my breasts removed. Those thoughts tend to fade quickly as I ponder the very real alternative.

After several detailed consultations with my entire team of oncologists, radiologists, husband (David), and several family members, I decided to have a double mastectomy. Even though I only had cancer in one breast, because of my age, personal medical history, and my families history with breast cancer, we all concluded that a double mastectomy would be the best path for my longevity. During the process of being diagnosed, with breast cancer my husband has been there from the start. I thank God for giving me a husband (David) that has been my rock through each phase and trial of this unique battle. We seldom hear how spouses are impacted and affected when their loved-ones are diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband often tells me that his entire world has turned pink; he has been my sole caregiver throughout my journey.

David has seen me at my worst; and has been holding me up daily to get through the traumatic pain and suffering that I have endured battling breast cancer. I recall the time when my previous pretty long natural hair began to fall out. My oncologist warned me that my hair very likely begin to fall out around 15-18 days into the chemo therapy treatments; and he was right. One night about 17 days into my treatments, I was in the bathroom brushing my hair, and noticed that with each stroke of the brush, significant portions of my hair was coming out by the roots! My husband heard me crying in the bathroom and together we continued to brush and remove my hair. When most of it fell out, we finished cutting the rest with my husbands hair clippers. I ultimately cried myself to sleep that night in the warm and caring embrace of David’s arms.

No matter what life brings my way, I have always tried to learn something or pass on to others something I've learned. One thing I am grateful for is my husband of 30 years - Mr. David Michael Cross! My current battle, and every woman's battle with breast cancer, served as my husband’s inspiration for developing a Mobile App that can, and is helping breast cancer patients worldwide with post-opt surgical drains installed!

I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in April of 2013. I endured a five-hour double mastectomy on my husband’s birthday, May 3, 2013. I left the hospital two days later with four surgical drains installed by my surgeon (Dr. Stephanie Woodward). She instructed me to write down, track, and communicate the amount of fluid extracted from the surgical drains in 8 hour increments (cc's), to her staff daily. Many women who have endured a mastectomy, and had surgical drains installed, know and understand exactly how cumbersome and debilitating they can be. Besides the fact that they are uncomfortable, making it difficult to sleep, sit, travel and shower, you also need a pencil, and paper nearby to log the amount of fluids extracted from each your surgically insulated drains per your physician's instructions.

David witnessed the hardship I experienced with the surgically installed drains for six weeks, which inspired him to develop, and create a mobile app called “Surgical Drain Logger”. This HIPAA Compliant Patented App (the only one of it's kind at that time), was excepted by the Apple and Google App Stores, and can be downloaded and used by anyone with an iPad, iPhone, iPod, or any Android device for FREE!

The “Surgical Drain Logger” app will help caregivers, or patients, easily Log, Track, and Communicate the levels of their surgical drain fluids to their surgeon, nurse, physician, or anyone else! No more searching for pencils, pens, and paper to write on. No more using whiteout or erasers to correct mistakes; hunting for a calculator, or hassles trying to communicate surgical drains levels to their physician! With the new “Surgical Drain Logger” app, breast cancer patients can also quickly, and efficiently run: Day/Date/Range Reports, Fax, Email, Text, and/or Print the levels of their surgical drains directly from their Mobile Device! You can download the app here for free by pointing the web browser on your mobile device (Apple iOS Devices and/or Google Android devices) to: http://www.surgicaldrainlogger.com

Not only did Cancer try to take my life, it also took away my livelihood, my enthusiasm, my self esteem amongst many other things. Not only do I cry but my husband cries along with me due to the complications that I am experiencing. I know we are going to beat this because we are fighters and survivors. Life have offered us lemons, and together we are trying our best to turn the lemons into lemonade.

Thankfully, I am progressing towards wholeness, and am making positive strides daily!

For more information regarding this Mobile App and even more detailed information regarding my Breast Cancer Battle, please contact me at:

Cynthia L. Cross

33912 Temecula Creek Road

Temecula, Ca. 92592

justpurple4me@verizon.net

951.514.6334

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