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Leslie's Road to the Iron Man

May 3, 2007
by Leslie Biernat

My name is Leslie Biernat and I am a SURVIVOR.  In April of 2003 I was diagnosed with Stage III Invasive Ductal Carcinoma at age 33. My tumor was 6.5 cm and I had 1 of 3 lymph nodes positive.  No family history, no medical problems, no risk factors except the fact that I am a woman and 1 out of 7 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime with this disease. My cancer journey started with 6 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by lumpectomy, radiation, tamoxifen, mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, and top it off with complete hysterectomy. I am currently taking Aromasin.  Cancer has made me look death in the face and fight, but most importantly it taught me to live!  No one is guaranteed tomorrow, whether you have cancer or not, we must all live in the moment and enjoy each precious day that we are given; it is truly a gift from God.  

Professionally, I was an Emergency room nurse for 5 years. It was my passion.  Once diagnosed with cancer my passion changed, my ideas of life and living changed, I wanted to give back.  I not only wanted to show women that they can still be beautiful, healthy, strong, and do anything that they dream of even after cancer but I also never wanted another woman to face this disease alone. So what did I do about it? Well, I am currently a Breast Care Coordinator and have been given the privilege to talk with newly diagnosed patients everyday.  My journey has given me the opportunity on a daily basis to give hope and encouragement to all of my fellow sisters in their time of need. There is power in survivor to survivor, I’ve been there, I lived it, I understand.   I also facilitate a support group. I love every meeting and I receive so much from the strength of all the women who attend, they are, we are all amazing!   

Spiritually, cancer re-ignited my already strong faith in God.  I have had some amazing spiritual experiences during this journey as well as funny incidents.  I journaled my experience and I will be publishing it my book, “Faithful Journey: Memoirs of a Breast Cancer Survivor”, it is my walk through cancer, the losing of my hair, dealing with young children, dealing with life, from day to day as it happened.  When I look back at my journal it doesn’t even seem that it was me, I laugh, I cry all over again.  

Every day I look for more ways to show pride in my survivorship, we have all earned it!   I have always been an athlete played volleyball, basketball etc, and at one point I was afraid I may not play again, due to possible lymphedema, but I wasn’t going to let cancer take away that passion. I started to look for more challenges that I can put my once chemo, radiated, and surgically enhanced body through.  I am thankful to be alive and I wanted to accomplish something that not many people in the world have accomplished, especially cancer survivors, and that is to be an Iron man.  I have set up a fund through the philanthropy department where I work at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin called the “Survivorship Fund”.  This event will allow me to raise awareness and money for my fellow survivors in need.  Training will be grueling and it will be a battle but, hey, I beat cancer, I can beat anything.  Stay tuned to see how this journey will unwind.   And in the meantime, what is your passion, your dream, what do you want to do….?  

Leslie Biernat, Pink-Link member (username: LeslieB)


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