Join Bree and Stephen on the adventure of a lifetime. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro and support people affected by cancer. Register for Survivor Summit 2014 by June 20th and receive $100 off! Use code FathersDay100off
My name is Bree Sandlin and I live in Katy, Texas with my husband, Stephen and our beautiful twin 6 year old boys, Beck and Elliott. Our last seven years have been busy, to say the least. Not much has gone according to plan, but… when does it ever? We’ve had both typical and extraordinary ups and downs, and they have served us a better perspective on life and happiness. If our story has a meaning, it is a learned appreciation for the blessings we’ve been given.
Early on, Stephen and I encountered fertility issues. After an extended period of doctors visits and treatments, an in vitro fertilization procedure known as ICSI was successful. Our boys were born at 30 weeks, and had a long hospital stay early in their lives. Beck faced more than a dozen surgeries and had a stroke over 9 a month period, in the NICU. The resulting Cerebral Palsy, and other chronic issues require constant medical and physical support. Fortunately, Elliott is the best brother in the world, and is a tremendous helper to Beck. He’s a master Lego engineer, and the one most willing to read and play with Beck. It took some time, but we adjusted and moved on.
Just as our lives began to stabilize, another force stopped us in our tracks. After nearly 37 years of living what is best described as a healthy and active lifestyle, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Until that moment, I thought we had already been dealt our biggest challenge, with caring for Beck.
On July 13, 2012, I noticed a small lump on my chest, and followed the normal progression of doctor’s exam, mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy. By July 25, 2012, I had been diagnosed with Stage III Triple Negative Breast Cancer. 23 days later, I was having my first session of chemotherapy. During that early period of confusion, LIVESTRONG was one of our first informational contacts. They provided a bedrock of knowledge and mental support as we moved forward. In this case, moving on meant using the lessons learned from our sons’ medical journeys, and grasping at every resource available to understand what we were up against. No rock was to be left unturned. We researched, read, asked questions, ate better, exercised more, breathed in and breathed out. The doctors were doing their part, we were sure enough going to do ours.
Since that diagnosis, I have completed chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. As a carrier of a mutated BRCA1 gene, I also opted for a preventative bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy. As of February 13, 2013, I am cancer free and loving every second of it. This experience has changed our family for the better. I have never been more aware of the love that surrounds us. I have become an occasional spokesperson for MD Anderson, as a patient representative, and want nothing more than to give hope to other people facing these challenges.
Stephen and I are beyond excited to participate in the 2014 LIVESTRONG Survivor Summit expedition. When Stephen first brought this experience to my attention, I knew we had found our goal. We want to raise awareness and funds for all of the good that LIVESTRONG does. We also want to celebrate, and show appreciation for, the unflinching support of our family and friends over the last year. Summiting this mountain would be an incredible way to solidify the trials and successes we’ve experienced. We’re ready!
Bree and Stephen Sandlin