When a doctor says the word "cancer" to a patient, it is without a doubt life changing.
Experts say no one should go through the illness alone.
One woman says a breast cancer support group made all the difference to her.
In the fall of 2011, Breanna Jean Munoz knew something was wrong.
Doctors at first told the 31-year-old that she likely had an infection one of her nipples.
"It came back to be dermatitis at first," said Munoz. "I went to a dermatologist who gave me cream and it got better."
However, that did not last long.
"It was eating away, and at the end of the process I didn't have a nipple," said Munoz. "It was completely gone."
She underwent extensive testing.
"This whole time, I didn't know anything, and I thought it was something simple not cancer," said Munoz.
That was, however, her diagnosis.
"I have a cancer that runs through the ducts of the mammary glands through the breasts," said Munoz. "I fell apart completely. I wasn't sure what would happen or how extensive the cancer was."
It was devastating. She opted for a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery.
It was a long road, one she couldn't go down alone.
That is why she turned to the Breast Cancer Support Group at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.
"I made myself go because I wanted to talk to people, and didn't know if I could talk to my family," said Munoz.
"The benefit for the ladies is the relationship and support for one another," said Pam Lewis-Breast Cancer Navigator, Womancare Breast Clinic.
The support group is a six week program.
The women get together every Tuesday where they learn about chemotherapy, exercise, nutrition, and other things to help them through the process.
They also form lifelong friendships.
"They have a bond for life," said Lewis.
"These ladies in that program helped me stay stronger than I ever could," said Munoz.
She is now cancer free.
"This December I got my nipples," said Munoz. "I notice myself feeling like a woman, and I'm complete."
She also has a new tattoo to help her and others never forget her journey.
It is a journey she is glad she didn't take alone.
"You become a family and get information that you wouldn't know because no woman looks at cancer before they get it," said Munoz.
To find out more about the support group, contact Saint Francis Womancare at (573) 331-5209, ext. 2.
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