Survivor Stories -- Cindi Mele – Handful

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Survivor Stories -- Cindi Mele

on October 24, 2018

I was diagnosed in March 2016, and it came as quite a shock. It was a major "inconvenience" as I like to call it, because as a 61 year old runner, I had signed up to run a couple half marathons, and breast cancer got in my way! Once my lumpectomy and sentinel node removal were finished, I received the news that my diagnosis was invasive ductal carcinoma, a class 3 tumor, and overall stage 1, Her2+, and hormone negative.

This was good news/bad news, because there is targeted therapy for this aggressive form of breast cancer…but no one wants to hear they have an aggressive kind. I felt so thankful for the former clinical trial patients, who went through all the drug testing and calibrating, and discovered that the miracle drug Herceptin that gets rid of the cancer can also cause heart weakness. They monitored me closely, and within three months of my twelve month course, it happened. So disheartening to have worked on my fitness all my life to maintain heart health and to have a drug attack the heart muscle. I went to many cardiologist appointments, took more medications, and suffered more fatigue and stress to my body. Fast forward a year and a few months after treatment, my heart function returned to normal. But I’ve learned you can never know what is around the corner, because last week I found out my heart is weak again so back on heart medication I went. I am dealing with this news as I did before -- just "keep moving." It got the cancer cells out of my body, and now I will focus on mending my heart.

I want to thank my husband for standing by me and not letting me boo hoo. He was so positive and supportive. It helped a lot! I can sometimes be a glass half empty person, but not when it came to this, because he lifted me up. Cancer has definitely impacted my life. I am thankful every day and my belief in angels has been proven time and time again on this journey. My mom passed away a few months before my diagnosis, and I am sure she made me rub my ribs, because they hurt from a yoga for runners class I was taking. She made sure I felt that damn lump.

I have been a Handful lover since early 2010, when I saw them at a running expo in Phoenix. As a small chested gal, they made me feel feminine and covered up the nips! No product at that time had found this niche. I started working for this awesome company as a regional sales rep to spread the love in the Midwest and beyond. I met so many positive and loving owners, and I feel so lucky to have them in my life. 

To honor my journey and those of all the women who came before and sadly will continue to come after me until there is a cure, I plan on raising more money for the charity Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which uses 91% of proceeds toward research. 

by Jody on October 25, 2018

Cindi – I love your love for angels. My mom had an angel collection that I have taken on and it gives me the strength and energy to keep going when the days are too long or dark. She lost her battle with cancer but the way she lived – taking things head on – was so similar to your approach. Your daughter is so lucky (and your grandson) to have you as her mom! Keep running, keep doing what you do and keep believing in Angels….xoxo

by Kathi Steen on October 24, 2018

Thank you Handful for posting these amazing, empowering stories.

by Cary on October 24, 2018

Cindi, you submitted my favorite photo — gardening in Battle Cry Pink! Thank you for spreading the Handful love all over the midwest and for running on our Hood to Coast team for years. I can’t believe three women at Handful were diagnosed with breast cancer. We need a cure!


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