Natalie Breen’s story with breast cancer began with a woman she never knew. A woman her father barely knew. Natalie’s grandmother, Barbara Breen, was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s while she was raising 6 children. She passed away in her 40s, leaving behind her young children and a husband who, admittedly, felt overwhelmed and without support. “If Runway had existed [then] their lives would have ended up very differently.”

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Hannah Earle is living with metastatic breast cancer. In 2016, as a 31-year old mother of 2 young children, Hannah was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Her children were just 4 and 18 months old; she was in the thick of her world as a mom when cancer came roaring into her life and altered it forever. However, Hannah was steadfast that her diagnosis would not gravely affect the childhood of her two boys. You’ll come to realize this is an ever-present theme woven into the fabric of Hannah’s story.

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As an ICU nurse, Liz Mover was familiar with the hardships of devastating medical diagnoses. It wasn’t something, at age 34, she thought she would have to face, but when she found a lump in her breast and started experiencing arm pain, her reality quickly altered. After a mammogram and ultrasound, Liz read over her biopsy report and was able to determine she did indeed, have breast cancer. After the news in February of 2018, “it was a total whirlwind” of genetic counselors, oncologists, surgeons and more. Liz had a double mastectomy, port placement and four cycles of chemotherapy: “it felt like time had froze, but in reality it was still very much moving. I was so involved in making a plan, but as time passed I still had to figure out how to tell my children why I would be losing my hair and feeling crappy.”

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arah Gean glows with positivity and it’s why one would never be able to guess how fraught with difficulty her breast cancer journey has been. Her diagnosis came from her own self-awareness, after she noticed swelling and tenderness in her armpit. Her ultra sound and mammogram did not show her tumor. It would be a follow up MRI that finally revealed she had breast cancer. She got the news while in the car with her family, just before Christmas, on December 21, 2019.

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Nicole Merhill considers herself “the queen of referrals to Mass General Hospital.” It’s a title most would never strive for, but Nicole laughs when she reflects on how many people she has connected with the incredible medical team there. She knows first hand how impactful an amazing team of doctors is because she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, but not before an incredible few months of self advocacy.

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Paul was seven years old when his mom, a single mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The youngest of four, Paul understood very little about what was going on, but his mom tried her best to prepare her children for what was to come. She arranged therapy for them and had support in place, but while Paul’s siblings were able to comprehend their mother’s battle, Paul found her death, when he was just 12 years old, a complete shock.

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On January 3, 2020 Laura Allen got the call no one wants. It was from her doctor, letting her know she had stage 1 B breast cancer. At a time of year where people are focused on goal setting and fresh starts, Laura’s reality was one of shock and uncertainty.

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Nine years out from her breast cancer diagnosis, Tara Runnals is reflective about how far she has come in her journey: “so much about breast cancer and the diagnosis is trying to get back to normal and rebuilding your body from intense treatment.”

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Val Campbell had a long day. It was Thanksgiving of 2016 and she had just spent the day eating and celebrating with family. She finally was able to crawl into bed late that night and much to her surprise, she felt a lump. She messaged her doctor and spoke with a nurse the next morning. “I went in on Black Friday and within a week, I got the call saying ‘it’s cancer.‘”

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