ABOUT Denise the Blogger

My name is Denise McCroskey. I am now a TEN YEAR SURVIVOR of Stage 3 Her2 Positive Breast Cancer.    Within 3 years of my own diagnosis, little did I know that my mom would be diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer and my only sibling, my sister and best friend, would be diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer.  It has been one LONG RIDE.

I began this blog on my day of diagnosis with Stage 3 Triple Positive Breast Cancer – I had a HUGE over 6 cm tumor, the size of a tennis ball, and 14 lymph nodes removed, 9 nodes were cancerous.   When I started my Blog, I never dreamed it would become my purpose and passion to help others going through this terrible disease.   I write about every aspect of breast cancer.    

I endured a Mastectomy of the left breast and soon will have my right breast removed, Adriamycin Cytoxan (AC) Chemo, Taxol Chemo,  Herceptin, had a heart attack because of Chemo and heart damage due to Herceptin, 33 radiation treatments, and have been on Arimidex (Anastrozole) for 5 years.  I was only able to have 3 months of the miracle drug, Herceptin, as a result of the heart issues.   Also, I also have to cope with Lymphedema.  With all that said, I am doing quite well now and just had another clear checkup!  My mom is now 4 years out and my sister is 3 years out!  We are so grateful we made it through!! 

Since I spent hours researching what I needed to purchase during and after Breast Cancer treatments, I opened an online store, Hello Courage, http://www.hellocourage.com  to make things easier for others.  I made it affordable and offer FREE SHIPPING in USA since breast cancer is expensive no matter what your insurance.  One thing I learned is that looking better during treatment helps you feel better! Please check out http://www.hellocourage.com or click on image!

This is my story.   If you or someone you love are fighting Breast Cancer, I hope and pray you will find some solace in my experiences and strength to keep up the battle.  It is long and grueling, but there is hope and life after Breast Cancer!!    Feel free to email me at hellocourage@live.com     I love to give hope and support to others!




    • Hi – I wish you the best on your journey. It is such a challenging road, but you learn more about yourself and others
      than you could ever imagine. Take it in small increments, try not to think too far ahead (which is so hard to do), and
      you will get through it!! I finished Radiation yesterday. I didn’t think I would make it through. But I did and you
      will too! My best, Denise

  1. Thanks for the info.-very helpful. I just started losing my hair. I am taking Taxol also, but for Ovarian Cancer. The port info. was great too.

  2. Hi Denise,
    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story.
    I am 32 years old with 2 young kids and was diagnosed with Stage 3 triple positive IDC last spring. I have had 3 surgeries (lumpectomy, large excision lumpectomy and then rad lymph node dissection), 6 mths of chemo and am now halfway done 30 rad treatments.
    I receive IV treatments from my naturopath of high dose vit C, peroxide and many other vits and minerals 3 times per week. My faith is firmly planted in Christ and really believe in this adjuvent therapy. (Same as what dr. Bryzinski does in Texas)
    I have 9 more Herceptin treatments (once every 3 weeks) and am taking tamoxifen (for 10 years)
    Lots of love and prayers,

    • Lisa, thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so sorry you have had
      to go through this at your very young age with 2 great young kids! It breaks
      my heart when I hear of young women like you. I am so glad you are almost done.
      I will definitely check into your IV treatments you are receiving from a Naturopath!
      Good for you!!
      Thinking of you with love and prayers back, Denise

  3. Just had a lumpectomy, all is clear, yay. Will start rads soon. I am so glad to find your blog. It lets me feel connected.

  4. Hi Denise,
    I love your blog and am finding it very informative and helpful. I only just found about a week ago. I am having my fourth AC dose dense chemo today. Bit worries as each round is taking longer to get over. July 19 I start four rounds of Taxol, think it is every two weeks. Then I will need radiation and surgery but not sure of the order. Then 10 years of Tamoxifen! I am having to chunk this journey as the big picture is overwhelming! I was reading your posts on lymphoedma and am wondering if this journey will ever end. My battle is made harder as after two years in the adoption process and being matched with a little girl I had to give her up after my diagnosis. Sorry to tell you that but it weighs heavily on my heart.
    Thank you for keeping such a great blog,
    P.s. stage three, estr positive, prog positive and HER2 negative with lymph node involvement

  5. Hello Denise… I am so glad that i found your blog. I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma last May 2013. Stage 1A; triple negative. Had double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and now have an expander in place. The other problem is I also have Lupus (SLE). I started chemo 9 Aug but just 2 mins of infusion, a severe allergic reaction to taxotere so they stopped the treatment. Saw my oncologist 16 Aug and was given new chemo plan. AC treatment every two weeks for 4X, will be followed by Abraxane, every 3 wks for 4X. Honestly i am having anxiety attacks just thinking of it because of the reaction from taxotere. Will get a port placement on Monday, 19 Aug. My first AC treatment will be Friday, 23 Aug. Just wondering if you know of someone who had chemo and have lupus? Wondering how they did with the treatment. Reading your blogs and others made me think more positive about the whole thing. Thank you so much for all the good info.

    • Hi Marie – thanks for posting about your journey with Lupus and breast cancer.
      I have not heard from any other women with Lupus. I wish I could be of more
      assistance to you. However, I have heard from others who had to go the
      AC and then Abraxane route with very good results. It is not uncommon to
      have allergic reaction to Taxol or Taxotere, as you know, even without Lupus.
      Of course you are scared silly. But I do believe this will be much more tolerable
      for you. AC is rough. That is the nature of it. But you are determined and
      I know you will make it through. Thinking of you, Denise

    • Hi Marie, my name is Nancy, I too have triple negative breast cancer. I found my lump in May, my mammogram wasn’t due until November but because of the amount of b/c in my family I always did self checks.
      Because of really bad dry skin, I switched from soap and liquid soaps to baby wash, it’s so gentle on my skin, and because I lost my pubic hair, I find that baby wipes work wonders, I buy the dollar store ones or just the cheapest because they don’t spread on me after going to the bathroom. Good luck to you god bless you!

  6. Hi Denise…….. thank you for documenting your cancer fighting journey…… I find peace and alot of encouragements from reading your blog. Although I am not the one down with cancer(my mum of 72 was diagnosed with a rare aggressive form of uterine cancer last month), since then, I have been surfing the net like crazy for my mum to find any info and help to help her cope and fight the cancer. I hope you are doing well and I wish that all the brave cancer survivors and their caregivers to be strong and positive always!!!

    • I wish your mom (and you) the best in her fight. Please tell her the best advice I ever got – “Never give up.” The temptation is there sometimes, but to fight the fight, you have to stand strong. It is so worth it! My best, Denise

  7. one of my college was dx with bc recently (early stage, luckily), google ‘how to greet a cancer patient’ brought me here. your blog is very helpful!
    plus, i am (was?) also a stage 3 bc patient as well. i ve finished all the treatment in June and back to work now. Since i am a TN, i dont have any further active treatment but leave my life / future to ..how to say… not human being’s hand. i dont to believe that 3 words give me this at first place so i refuse to believe its under his control later.
    Your ‘The Top 5 things NOT to say or do to for a Cancer Patient:’ is EXACTLY what i want to shout to my relatives and friends! i ve gone through all those five one by one from the moment i broke the news to them early this year. i know they are concerned and kind to me but i just HATE. i dont want to ‘thank you’ them and put a fake smile on my face when all i want to do is scream!
    Thanks in advance for letting me ramble on. 😀

  8. Denise , I love your blog and it had great information. I also write a blog ” left boob gone rogue ” , it’s about finding humor in this situation .
    Www. Uzmay.wordpress.com

  9. Thanks for your blog Denise! I start my first chemo this Friday and although I present a strong facade to all my friends and family…am really very frightened from within. Reading your experiences is helping me understand the side effects a bit and how it will feel like.

    • I know you will do well because I feel your strength. However, it is
      real strength when you know how fearful you are! And you know! My best
      advice is try to compartmentalize each event because looking at the whole
      is so overwhelming. Each event whether it is surgery, port placement, chemo,
      radiation is major. You will get through the very dark tunnel. The biggest
      lesson I learned was about energy – and how to use what little you have wisely.
      Feel free to contact me anytime if you need any answers, hope or encouragement!
      YOU WILL MAKE IT! Denise

  10. Just found your blog today and enjoyed reading it. My mother recently passed away, 13 years after her diagnosis with HER2Neu, receptor negative cancer that was initially in 9 lymph nodes. After the initial surgery, chemo (A/C + Taxol) and radiation, she was cancer free for nearly five years before it came back briefly in lung fluid, and then on a random unrelated scan, they found an asymptomatic tumor in her brain. Over the years, she had brain surgery three times, cyber knife treatments, Tykerb and Herceptin. Until this last year and a half, her quality of life was quite high and she continued to work/drive/volunteer. My mom loved life and lived with a positive attitude, which I think helped. She was not a statistic either, and I am glad that she and our family did not look at those numbers, which I have since looked at – amazed at all the years that we had with Mom since diagnosis. So much research is being done on this type of cancer, and so many breakthroughs are on the horizon, it’s very encouraging. I consider us lucky that my mother benefited from many “new” treatments that weren’t available in the previous decade. And I am hopeful that many more treatment options will continue to be available in the future. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all of the women reading this blog who are dealing with their own cancer or a loved one’s cancer. Stay strong, stay positive.

    • Hi Kasey, I am so sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. She helps all of us
      by living with grace and courage as a survivor. I appreciate your sharing her
      story and sharing her life with us! My best, Denise

  11. Hi Denise,

    I’m so pleased I came across your blog. I’m a single 52 year old mom of 10 year old twin boys who was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in Mar’14 (Stage 3A, ER/PR+, lumpectomy, 6/10 nodes involved). This is such a scary journey, but quickly shows you what and who is important in your life. I started the AC portion of my chemo regime last week, and am struggling mightily with the gastrointestinal side effects. I used to love food, but now can’t stand the sight of it! I’m glad to hear that the Paclitaxel portion of treatment is more bearable, and I will take your advice to isolate / deal with each aspect of treatment individually; otherwise it all becomes too overwhelming. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many women struggling with breast cancer.

    • Karen, I am so glad I can help you through my blog. You are in the roughest
      part of the chemo regime right now. I had a lot of gastrointestinal side effects
      and my Oncologist put me on meds that helped. Do not be afraid to tell them.
      One thing you learn is take the pills!!
      Single mom with twin boys – what a gift, but I hope you are getting the help
      you need from family and friends. The hardest thing for me was to ask for help.

      Please do deal with each aspect of treatment! I promise it will help!
      I appreciate your kind words to me – any time you need a listening ear feel
      free to email me at b4Denise@hotmail.com Sending love, hope and encouragement! Denise

  12. Found your blog on side effects for my ‘trash mouth’ ….in the 3rd round of chemo(every 2 weeks//Adria and Cyt.) and this site really helped. I have tried brushing /rinsing with Baking Soda, flossing, frocing myself to drink more water. And still ..bread taste like paper, chicken blah!, I loved peanut butter but now, blah! I have one more session of Adria/Cyt////then it’s Taxol…..anyone with new ideas out there?

    • Beatrice – the good news is you are almost done with AC! Things will
      start tasting better then! I ate mashed potatoes with cottage cheese
      in place of the milk to up the protein. I also ate pancakes with cottage
      cheese mixed in – couldn’t taste it but got my protein in….
      It is such a difficult place – but Taxol will be better!! My best, Denise

  13. Dear Denise-thank you for sharing your story as I am now 11 weeks out from left breast mastectomy and right breast reduction from ( Paget disease of the nipple). If there is anyone out there that also has this form of breast cancer I would love to speak with them. The gratitude and sadness at the Loss of my breasts has been a roller-coaster. I am so grateful to the women and doctors that have walked this journey with me and at the same time feel a great sadness over my physical loss. Know that I pray for you and your family and friends as I do for all women on this journey. I am cancer free today and I know that as a result of God’s love & mercy and generosity and the gifts given to my surgeon and family Physician. God bless you and women like you that have shared their stories which encourage joy in each step I will take in the future on this life’s journey. It has been a great opportunity to share in God’s passion this little cross of mine with others the great peace God has given me in taking this journey as He walked beside me. At the Foot of the Cross Sr.Carol Therese , SSC

    • Sr. Carol, thank you for sharing your story. This is all very new for you. My thoughts
      and prayers go with you. I will be sending you a private email, and encourage any others
      that have Paget’s Disease to write Sr. Carol or me at b4Denise@hotmail.com
      Paget’s Disease is described by the National Cancer Institute as follows:
      Key Points
      Paget disease of the breast is a rare type of cancer involving the skin of the nipple and, usually, the darker circle of skin around it, known as the areola.
      Most of the time, people with Paget disease of the breast also have one or more tumors inside the same breast.
      Paget disease of the breast may be misdiagnosed at first because its early symptoms are similar to those caused by some benign skin conditions.
      The outlook for people diagnosed with Paget disease of the breast depends on a variety of factors, including the presence or absence of invasive cancer in the affected breast and, if invasive cancer is present, whether or not it has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
      Thanks, Sr. Carol, for increasing our awareness of yet another breast cancer – Paget’s Disease. My best, Denise

  14. Denise you are a great person and have touched so many lives. I hope I can be as strong as u and gave as good outcome. I am so scared. On taxol and herceptin now 12 week plan getting some infections going on 5 th week of taxol. I worry about my cancer spreading to other areas because I am Her2 positive. I know I should think positive but it is so hard. We spoke once before. God bless u and your sister. It’s a shame that u are going through this with her for I am sure thus brings back horrible memories for u. I am 59 and I go to Sloan Kettering in New York city for my treatments. They are 2 and a half hours from my house but my husband feels this is where I should be. Hopefully your sister has a good cancer hospital where she lives. My thoughts and prayers will be their for you. I can only hope a cure for breast cancer will come soon without the side effects we are enduring. Feel free to write me and again best wishes for you and your sister.

    • Karen, somehow I missed your comment. I hope you are doing well and making it through Taxol.
      Oh so glad you are at Sloan Kettering. I think great hospitals are important. My sister just
      finished her 4th AC Chemo. Onto Taxol for her. AC has been rough. It’s been hard to see
      her suffer.
      Sending my best wishes to you! Denise

  15. Denise, thank you for what you do. I am a stage 1 IDC whose lumpectomy was not successful and need to go back in. My lymph nodes were not involved, praise God. I have had so many complications from lumpectomy that I am going to do a bilateral mastectomy. I hate feeling sorry for myself, but I have to say at times I do. Cancer sucks. I’m so thankful there is a safe place for us to be honest. Lord knows when we go out into the world people want us to put on our positive attitudes…. Talk about pressure….like it isn’t hard enough dealing with cancer, now I’m made to feel like I have to be happy about it. I’m starting to think the only people who get it are others who are navigating their way through the cancer maze. Let’s support each other.

    • Brenda, thanks so much for your post. I am so sorry you have to have more surgery.
      I feel bad for you because that should have been a somewhat simple surgery. My mom
      had a Stage 1 Lumpectomy with a 1.5 cm tumor. She was at the casino the next day.
      My recommendation would be to find a really good breast surgeon and get a second
      opinion before you go the bilateral mastectomy route.
      Sending my best to you, Denise

  16. Hi Denise – you haven’t replied here for a while so not sure if you still check this, but I wanted to thank you for this informative post about the port insertion. I am facing this in 2 weeks and your information and experience REALLY helped me. Thanks and God bless.

    • Hi Karen – thanks for your comment. Sending all my best wishes to you.
      I am so glad my port insertion helped. Like you, I had no idea of what
      was involved and no one seems to tell you!
      My blog is still very active, and I am on it daily!
      You CAN GET through all of it!! Thanks again and sending prayers for you! Denise

      • Thank you, Denise. I can and I will get through all of it – I am a woman of faith and the Lord has been my Rock through all of this. I am battling Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, and while the world screams words like “terminal” and “un-treatable” at me, I cling to my Savior and that I know where my eternity lies. I have a peace and a joy through all of this. I appreciate your prayers.

  17. Iam 45 next week with boy girl twins and was just diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing sarcoma.(only 400 adults a ear are diagnosed with this, usually teenager cancer) It was only 2.2cm but they blasting me with 9 months of chemo with Adromycin because of the aggressive nature of my tumor. It hasn’t spread to anywhere else. Everyone tells me how brave I am, but I have no choice and am really scared. I had my first treatment and it is day 9 and I am still in and out of bed and am totally antisocial. reading everyone’s stories is very helpful. Thank you so for starting this blog.

    • Heather, somehow I missed this post back in June! I am so sorry! Perhaps my response will be timely at this time.
      I know two people who were diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma – one was a co-worker of my niece. She was in her mid-20s at diagnosis.
      She, too, was treated very aggressively as you are. She spent a lot of time in the hospital and went through Adriamycin (red devil) as you are.
      I ran into her a few months back. She is now 9 years out and doing great! Her son was only 8 years old at the time, and is now going to be
      a senior in high school.
      The second was a grandson of my mom’s good friend who was 12 at diagnosis. He was treated at Ohio State very aggressively. He is now 5 years out and doing
      very well.
      I hope these bring you continued hope and courage. And know if you have days when you want to give up, that is totally normal!!
      All my best, Denise

      • thank you so much for your reply. The ewing sarcoma is so rare and especially in a 45 year old women like me. I am thankful for your positive stories.

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