My original cancer diagnosis came in August of 2002, when I was 59 years old and going thru many personal changes in my life. My eldest daughter was about to give birth to her third daughter, and my youngest daughter was newly pregnant with her second child. I had changed companies in the spring, thinking I might slow down in my work schedule, when my husband was suddenly forced into early retirement, changing that concept. A stage IIIB breast cancer diagnosis was a shocking game changer.
For the next 9 months, I underwent a mastectomy, tram flap reconstruction, chemotherapy, two breast revisions, & carpel tunnel surgery. I lost my hair, but not my sense of humor. I revised priorities, turned to friends, family and faith for support, and found much great information and many kindred spirits at the BCCR. By 2004, I was putting my cancer experience behind me and trying to think that in many ways I was stronger for the experience. I was enjoying grandchildren, having a husband partnering with me at home and work, and getting used to living life on my terms again.
Then came some new rib pain in 2011. After several doctor’s appointments, X-rays, blood tests, scans, and biopsies, the heart wrenching diagnosis of Stage 4, Metastatic Breast Cancer was attached to my chart. The cancer had spread via the lymph nodes to my lungs, and bones, with a large tumor on my femur as well as causing three broken ribs. There were spots at the base of my skull, and shadows on my kidneys and a tumor in my other breast.
The fight began again with renewed vigor. I have made every effort to learn all I can about this disease, and have surrounded myself with positive people. My cancer responds to hormone therapy, and I receive shots each month. I also receive an infusion to strengthen my bones. I will be on some type of treatment for the rest of my life. The mantra is “scan, treat, repeat.”
Once again, I turned to BCCR to participate in wellness programs, discussion groups and support groups. Here is the one place where others are walking the same walk as I am, and do “get” what breast cancer can do to you physically, mentally and emotionally. And here also is one place where I can share my many blessings, and let others know that while a diagnosis is devastating, and the life you now live is not the one you envisioned, it still can be productive, rewarding and beneficial.
Hearing the word “stable ” is music to my ears each and every month. I take very little for granted and look for beautiful moments each day and ways to enrich others lives.