Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Survivor Collection

Cancer is a word that none of us want to hear about ourselves or about a loved one. We usually associate that with a death sentence. With technology dr’s can diagnose cancer earlier than ever and survival is very obtainable in lots of cases. Creator Sue Paist, in collaboration with Charles & Colvard has designed The Survivor Collection of rings, and necklaces where 5% of proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

I was asked to give their Heart of Strength Pendant to a friend or family member who is a cancer survivor. I knew right away who I wanted to talk to. A friend of mine just got the all clear that she is free of cancer. I hadn’t talked to her before in depth about her journey so I took this opportunity to learn.

Please note that I will be talking about breast cancer in some detail about body parts in case you have a child near that you don’t want to read (no pictures will be shown that inappropriate)

Laurie knew that she should do a monthly self breast exam which she did but never felt anything different. She did remember that a friend of the family talking about breast cancer and a liquid substance coming out of their nipples. One day Laurie noticed that she had some comming out of her nipples, but thought maybe it was a pimple or something and not really from her nipple. After a few minutes, she determined that it was her nipple after all. She had a feeling that something wasn’t right so she went to her dr for an exam.

At the Dr, nothing came out of her nipple but the dr still ordered a mammogram to make sure. Due to the size of her large breasts it was hard to get good images, so she had to go back a few times. Laurie was leaving to out of town for a weekend and still hadn’t heard the results so she called the dr and begged that she give her the results no matter what they were. reluctantly the dr agreed and broke the news that she had breast cancer. She was diagnosed with Ductal carcinoma in situ  (DCIS). This means that the cancer was in her milk ducts and hadn’t traveled beyond that yet. I’m going to use the work lucky here, because I believe that she is. She was able to get help before the cancer spread anymore. DCIS is completely curable.

Many years prior, Laurie had a hysterectomy so to her, her breasts were the only thing she had left that made her feel like a woman. She was afraid if they took those, she would have nothing left. After discussing it with her medical team, she came to the decision that she would have a double lumpectomy (2 tumors) with bi-lateral partial mastectomy, mainly so she wouldn’t have to go through this again, once was enough for her.

Laurie had to go through many weeks of radiation after the surgery, which meant that she couldn’t work. Since she is the only one in her household, not working is a huge problem. She relied on help from family and friends to get through the many weeks while she was recovering. Recovery wasn’t easy with all the treatments and pain associated with it. Even now she is still having pain months after radiation treatments are done.

One of the things that Laurie said helped her was getting involved in online support groups. She didn’t know anyone who had DCIS in our town but through the internet she was able to connect to people who understand  exactly what she was going through.

I know a lot of people don’t understand how much those groups can help, but I can completely understand and relate with Laurie. While I never had breast cancer, I do have other conditions that I gained valuable information and developed very close friendships with people from online group forums. So I was very happy to hear that Laurie is using them to help her and also to help others.

She pointed out that now that she is in the clear and no cancer is detected, she just wants to put everything behind her but can’t. Everytime she puts on a bra, looks at herself naked in the mirror, she is reminded of what she went through due to the scars, but they are also scars of bravery and victory. Although she is cancer free right now, she will has to take an estrogen blocking drug for the next 5 years because her cancer fed off estrogen. She stared cancer in the face and won, she can say everyday that she is a survivor.

Laurie didn’t know when she was speaking to me that she was going to get this necklace, she didn’t even know it existed. She just wanted to share her story in hopes that it would help even one person. She was surprised when I presented it to her and was very proud to wear it.

I ask that if you think something is wrong when doing a self breast exam that you call and schedule an appointment with your doctor. The earlier you go in the better chances you have to win if something is found in the exam.

I really want to thank Laurie for taking the time to talk to me, and i’m sure that our brief conversation will help someone.

If you know someone who is a cancer survivor, check out The Survivor Collection It would make for a great Christmas present that i’m sure they would be proud to show off. You can purchase the jewelry at

Disclosure: The above item was received in order to facilitate review. I have not been compensated for this post. Top Notch Material blog will always provide honest opinions, beliefs or experiences on products reviewed. We will only recommend products or services that we feel are of benefit to our readers. If you have any questions, please contact me at katrina dot gehman {at} gmail com. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


  1. Muy interesante este articulo, tengo varias amigas que perdieron la batalla contra esa terrible enfermedad. Es por ese motivo que debemos hacernos anualmente los examenes, de control. Es mejor prevenir que lamentar!

  2. I really love that when you purchase jewelry from them, 5% of proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The Drop of Courage Pendant is beautiful.

  3. Oh those are so beautiful! Oh the self exams are so important...I tend to forget sometimes which I know is not good. Thanks for the reminder to do mine!