Fight Like a Girl

Posted by Sabrina Sarabella on Monday, October 13, 2014

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to honor three very special woman who I know personally who are breast cancer survivors.  Each of these woman received their diagnosis when they were in their 30s, their stories are all different yet similar.  

All three woman talk about the importance of nutrition and the changes they have made to their diet after their diagnosis.  Since breast cancer is an estrogen dominate cancer it is important increase foods that high in antioxidants and decrease foods that have excess hormones.  

I would also like to honor the woman who fought hard but unfortunately lost their battle to cancer.  Your strength will always be an inspiration to us and your legacy will live on through the people that loved you.  

If you haven’t downloaded my FREE ebook “The Woman’s Guide to Empowered Health” which is filled with a ton of information about woman's health you can download your FREE ebook right now by clicking on the link here

Here are these three special woman’s stories: 

Lauren Polito Smolinski

My Story: 

At 7 months pregnant and 33 years old, I felt a rather large lump in my left breast. I pointed it out to my OB/GYN and she thought it was just a blocked milk duct but she sent me to have a sonogram to check it out.   At the appointment, I could see the techs face go white, she excused herself from the room and came back with a doctor. The doctor held my hands and I thought "Uh oh, this can't be good". She said "Honey, there's no easy way to say this, you have a tumor and we need to schedule you for a biopsy.”  The biopsy confirmed that I had a Estrogen Positive, Stage 2 Breast Cancer tumor (a rather large one), fueled from the hormones from my pregnancy.  I didn't even know that this was possible! That night I stayed in bed and cried and cried. But the next morning I said to myself, "You are a strong person and you have to stay calm and positive, or you are going to loose this baby". So I got out of bed, got dressed, and from then on took one day at a time and faced whatever battle came my way head on. I started chemo 5 days later at 32 weeks pregnant.  I had two rounds of chemotherapy before I had my son. I was tired and wiped out after my treatments, not wanting to eat and only wanting to sleep but I knew that nutrition was very important during this time, for me and my unborn son, so I forced myself to eat soups and green juices. On March 20th, 2013 I gave birth to the strongest, most handsome baby boy you will ever meet, Tyler Stone. That sweet baby saved my life, I did it all for him. When I had to start my chemotherapy again, only two weeks after he was born, I knew that I was going to show Tyler how tough his mommy was and get healthy to enjoy the world with him in it. I had 16 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a lumpectomy and then on August 29th 2013, I heard the news I was waiting for;  I was cancer free and in remission! My surgery was successful and I had no areas of cancer remaining in my breast or lymph nodes. I had won the battle, but I was not done yet. I then went for 30 radiation treatments, almost every day after work for two months and finally finished radiation therapy at the end of November. I am happy today to be over a year in remission and to be enjoying every day with my son who is a year and a half now. He is tough like his mommy and keeps me on my toes!


What does it mean to be a Survivor? 

Being a survivor means that I can accomplish ANYTHING. I have been through hell and back and did it all with a smile on my face. I tried to keep the complaining to a minimum. And it taught me to appreciate every day of life and really put things in perspective for me. It is a precious thing to be a breast cancer survivor. It is not a club I WANT to be in, but I am proud of the strength I know I have inside.


What changes in your lifestyle/nutrition have you made since your diagnosis ?

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my cousin Jennifer, who was really like the wind beneath my wings during my fight with breast cancer, bought me a juicer and we started juicing together. We used kale or spinach as a base, with fruits and sometimes veggies and flax seed as a boost, as flax seed is an estrogen blocker. So when I was feeling horrible after my treatments and needed to keep my energy up, I would have a green juice and give my body the nutrients it needed. I cut back on how much red meat I was eating, tried to eat more fish, ate a lot of vegetables.  I also just try to not let stress into my life the way I used to. I think I am much more laid back at work and in life. I would see my doctor every week for blood work and an exam while I was going through treatments and miraculously every week my tumor would get smaller and smaller. The doctor said he really had never seen anything like it. I have to believe that putting the right foods in my body and not letting the stress take control had something to do with that.  And a positive attitude goes a long way!  


What advice would you give to woman going through the same things you have gone through?

The advice I would give to other women who are going through breast cancer treatment is stay positive and take one day at a time. And to make sure you are putting the right things into your body. After chemotherapy you really have no appetite but you NEED to eat and put the right things into your body. And drink PLENTY of water all throughout your treatments.  It is very easy to get dehydrated. Keep your eyes on the prize, your recovery, and celebrate the milestones. I would always do a count down of how many treatments I had left, half way there, or only two more to go. Take one battle at a time.  One of the hardest parts of the whole ordeal is when I lost my hair. Not only was it painful, but it was one of the most emotional things I have ever gone through. Just remember that it is only hair and it grows back!! A year ago I had a crew cut and today I am rocking a pretty full head of hair.

What advice would you give to woman in general about health and well being?

I would tell women in general how important it is to get your yearly mammogram and if you are under 40, check your breasts for yourself. If I hadn't my story could have been a lot worse.  Know your body and if you feel something out of the norm, contact your doctor. How my OB/GYN never found a lump on my breast when I was going to her weekly, I will never know. Needless to say, I have a new doctor now.  


Stephania Pappas Sherman

My story. 

I always felt like I was "healthy", never had major health issues and rarely even needed to see a doctor. I was high energy and ate mostly healthy, I took my vitamins and felt pretty "in-tune" with my body. It was a complete shock when I felt a lump one morning while putting on my bra. At first my OBGYN said “I think its just a calcium deposit, you're only 32 but let's do a mammogram just to be safe.” The rest is a whirlwind and I am so thankful everyday that I was persistent in following up with my doctor when I knew something was wrong. I have no family history so it was a complete shock to know that it was an estrogen produced cancer from my environment. I immediately began thinking of all the hormones that might have caused these ugly little cells to change my life forever. 

What does being a survivor mean to you? 

Surviving cancer changed me. Looking back, I don't believe I was ever living life to the fullest before my diagnosis. I was always playing it "safe" and doing what was expected, putting off trips to save money and never truly living in the moment but always for what was going to happen next. SO, while being diagnosed with cancer was scary it has made me thankful everyday for what I have, who I am, and what I can do for others.

What changes in your lifestyle/nutrition have you made since your diagnosis ? 

I stay away from any food with added hormones and ultimately try to add as many greens into my daily diet as possible. I have completely eliminated soy or products with soy in them (which I was completely surprised how many places it hides!!!) Also chemo treatments got me into a habit of drinking LOTS of water due to the constant dehydration- so I continue with lots and lots of water!! I have challenged myself to complete conquests I always thought would be fun but never attempted before such as a Triathlon, half-marathon, mud runs and a century bike name it I am ready to try it! I even created a 40before40 bucket list

What advice would you give to other woman who are going through what you did? 

Smile through it, never give up and set small goals to celebrate every accomplishment. I remember I would do my treatments every Friday after a half day at work and every Sunday night we would go to dinner at Disney once I was feeling better from my round and celebrate. I knew I would not eat much but knowing that dinner was there (and at the happiest place on earth) was a light at the end of the tunnel. 

I truly believe that a positive attitude and knowing I was going to beat it helped me get through the rough times. I won't lie - I cried! Cancer took away lots of things from me, most importantly my hair and the possibility of ever having children, but I never gave up hope because I knew that cancer messed with the wrong girl and wouldn't be the boss of me!

What advice would you give to woman in general about health and well being?

1. Don't avoid doctors! you know when something is wrong, listen to your body and act quickly!  My first diagnosis was on June 3 and on my last MRI before treatments began on July 3, only 1 month later, I went from Stage1 to Stage 2. Cancer is aggressive and you have to act fast. 

2. Put good stuff into your body! Stay away from unnatural and processed food -yuck. 
3. Live with no regrets!

Claudine Basile

My Story: 

I saw my gynecologist for my annual checkup a month after turning 35, the doctor wished me a happy birthday and wrote a prescription for my first mammogram. “I said, ‘Why? I don’t have breast cancer in my family,’ ” He explained it was just to establish a baseline, so I scheduled the screening for later in the week. It turned out to be anything but routine. One mammogram quickly turned into three, followed by an ultrasound and an MRI.  A few days later, her doctor delivered the shocking diagnosis: ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early, noninvasive form of breast cancer. 


I consulted two breast surgeons, both of whom said I was “lucky” because her cancer was small, self-contained, and would require only a lumpectomy. But before moving forward with the surgery, I sought the advice of a physician friend. Knowing I had lost my father three years earlier to pancreatic and liver cancer—two diseases linked to the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and 2— my friend suggested I meet with a genetic counselor to see if I was predisposed to a higher risk of breast cancer. Three weeks after getting tested, I got my answer: I was BRCA-positive.

I decided to make a tough decision and have both breasts surgically removed. I didn’t want to live my life with this knot in my stomach, wondering every time I had a mammogram, Is this going to be the one that shows cancer?

Three weeks after the surgery I was back to work.  There is still a future risk of getting ovarian cancer so I go to screenings every six months because ovarian cancer is very deadly, partly because it’s often diagnosed at a later stage.  In a situation that presents imperfect choices, I’m comfortable with the ones I’ve made to ensure my healthy future.

What changes in your lifestyle/nutrition have you made since your diagnosis ?

I have taken all Caffeine out of my body for the past 4 1/2 years.  And since my breast cancer tumor was Estrogen positive I have reduced the intake of any soy.

What does being a survivor mean to you?

To remain alive or in existence.  Live my life each day with no regrets.

To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.  To remain functional or usable.

As you can see all these woman are such strong, smart woman and cancer does not discriminate.  It is important to be an advocate for your own health educate yourself on woman’s health. 

Be sure to download your FREE “Woman’s Guide to Empowered Health” Here for more information about woman's health issues including nutrition and estrogen.  

You can also read more about nutrition for breast health here: