My Story: Linda Strano Burton

Type of Cancer & Stage: HER2+ stage 2
My Story: My cat discovered my cancer by suddenly starting to sleep on my breast. I have heard of animals’ behaviors changing when owners become ill. As I was reflecting on that, I began experiencing pain. Within a week, I was told I had cancer, and within two weeks, in June 2021, I received a formal diagnosis of invasive and aggressive ductal carcinoma, HER2 positive, stage 2.

HER2-positive breast cancer is characterized by testing positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). This protein promotes the growth of cancer cells. Approximately 1 in every 5 breast cancers has extra copies of the gene responsible for producing the HER2 protein. HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. There were no indications of cancer the previous year, but now I was facing a 5cm mass along with several micro calcifications spread throughout my entire right breast. Given its aggressive and invasive nature, immediate treatment was advised. My treatment plan consisted of chemotherapy, surgery/mastectomy, radiation therapy, and adjuvant therapy.

These past two years have been the most challenging yet enriching years of my life. Just like a Kintsugi pottery piece, I shattered into countless fragments only to be meticulously reconstructed with pure gold. Two years later… here I am… standing taller but also humbled, with deep admiration for all those who endure and battle daily. Cancer changes you, but you decide how you will change. Life presents us with numerous challenges, some of which cannot be fixed but only carried with grace.

“Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

How I got involved with ThriveWell Cancer Foundation
I discovered ThriveWell through conversations with other survivors. I reached out to their office and enrolled in the Diva Program. Throughout my journey, I felt a strong desire to connect with others who were going through similar experiences. I discussed my thoughts on starting a support group with Joseé Battle, the Programs Director. Through her exceptional efforts, we now have two available support groups after two years – one for patients and survivors, and another for caregivers.