Living With Stage 4 MBC
Scan…treat…repeat – an apt description that I read on a breast cancer website. Living with metastatic breast cancer is like a never-ending story.
When I was diagnosed with stage 4/metastatic breast cancer in my spine, I was in shock. It all came about due to a persistent pain in my back, which turned out to be a compression fracture in my spine. My oncologist had just seen me and said that he would see me in a year. After nine years, I seemed to be off the radar. Three weeks later I was back, much to his surprise. A PET scan confirmed the spread of the cancer.
After recovering somewhat from my initial shock, the doctor informed me that my condition, while not curable, is treatable. Ironically, I have no pain. My treatments began immediately--Ibrance (taken orally), along with Faslodex and Xgeva (both monthly injections). I am now two years into my new routine of monthly appointments and quarterly
The roller coaster ride has begun. When I see the doctor and learn that my blood work is good, I feel relieved. When I have a scan scheduled, I am worried until I have it and get the results, which so far have shown my condition to be stable. Then I wonder when that might change.
Except for that, my life has not changed drastically due to my diagnosis. I did give up playing golf, feeling uncertain about the fragility of my spine. I have filled that time with other endeavors, such as traveling, card making, and working out at the gym. I continue to chair a local cancer support group that I started in 2011.
That plan was working well for about a year until the pandemic arrived. Once again my life changed drastically. There was no traveling. There was no interaction with family or friends. There was no more personal training at the gym. My outings became limited to doctor visits and grocery shopping. My support group has not met in person in over a year. I do continue to provide monthly email updates. I could not afford to take unnecessary risks with my compromised immune system.
Lately, my circumstances have improved somewhat. Now that I have been vaccinated, I am slowly allowing myself to venture out to eat and to visit with friends. My husband and I are planning to travel to Tennessee this summer for a family reunion with our children and
grandchildren. It will be the first time we have all been together since December 2019.
We all have to find our way to survive our circumstances. I cannot allow cancer to define who I am. As I stated earlier, my current situation has not changed my life drastically. However, it has encouraged me to reflect on what is important to me and how I want to live my life. As
long as I am able, I want to do the following:
Maintain a positive attitude – I try to avoid negative thinking, even though what the future holds is unknown.
Make every day count – I try to accomplish at least one task each day.
Set short term goals – I have a mental “bucket list” of things to do and places to see.
Be kind to myself – I need to acknowledge that I have a serious health issue and I need to allow myself to feel sad or angry at times. However, I cannot allow it to become a detriment to my well-being.
Be present for others – I understand the importance of keeping in touch with family and friends, especially those in need of support. I have had incredible support throughout my own treatments and understand the importance of reaching out to others in need.
Continue to travel as conditions allow. – This is something that my husband and I enjoy doing together. We currently have two cruises booked for 2022.
Never give up. I need to keep moving forward, both physically and emotionally. This is important for my own well-being as well as for my family.
I continue to be a positive person. I still want to make a difference in the lives of others, even as I continue to scan…treat…repeat.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be
kind always.” (author unknown)