I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in December of 2008 at the age of 32. Metastatic breast cancer (stage iv) is when the cancer spreads from the breast to another part of the body. It is terminal and there is NO CURE. The life expectancy of a patient with metastatic breast cancer is 36 months.
My family and I were devastated and so scared when I was diagnosed. We had no idea what to expect and did not understand the seriousness of Metastatic Breast Cancer. My children were 3 and 4 years old at the time. I tried to prepare them for what to expect. My biggest concern was that they would be taken care of. My family and friends were so supportive. I started an aggressive treatment plan including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. My oncologist told me that I was going to be in treatment for the rest of my life. I quickly learned more than I ever wanted to know about breast cancer.
40,000 women die in the US from Metastatic Breast Cancer every year. 30% of all early stage breast cancer survivors will eventually have a re-occurrence and become metastatic.
It has not been an easy road for me. It is more like a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. I have been on some form of treatment/ chemo every 3 weeks for the past 8 years. I am very fortunate to be an outlier, which means that my type of cancer has responded well to treatments. I do not look sick right now because I have my hair. People don’t understand that not all chemotherapies cause hair loss. My disease has spread to my liver, pelvic, ribs, hips, spine, and sternum. Currently my disease is stable so I will continue on my targeted therapy. I have constant fatigue and my bones are very fragile from the tumors and side effects of the treatment.
This is my life, my new normal, and the show must go on. I try not to let cancer stop from from doing the things that I enjoy. I work full time and participate in as much as I can with my kids. I enjoy traveling and creating memories with my family. I may need to use a scooter to get around at times but I am still there with them and that is what is important. They are now 12 and 13 and do not remember a mother without cancer. They have endured more stress and worry than any child should ever have to experience. My husband is amazing and has been my rock through all of it. He is by my side every step of the way, putting his worries aside and supporting me. I am blessed to have the love and support of my family and friends. I am thankful to be alive and try to live life to the fullest. Having a terminal illness puts things into perspective. I live my life 3 months at a time worrying that the next CT scan will show further progression and that my end of life in near.
I advocate for Metastatic Breast Cancer research in the hopes that there will be new treatment options that will prolong my life and hopefully put an end to breast cancer forever.
You can support YWBCAF in Pittsburgh buy purchasing Pink Ribbon Bagels at the 31 Panera Locations or consider donating at ywbcaf.org/donate/