Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
On Dec. 25, 2014, I went to the ER with symptoms that mimicked gall stones. The medical team was so sure of about it. But after a CT scan, I was informed that I was, "completely riddled with tumors.” I was in shock. I thought, these are ER physicians, not oncologists. They had to be wrong. So I made an appointment with a local oncologist. He not only confirmed the diagnosis, but informed me I had about 30 days to live. Thirty days?! How could that could be possible? I felt bad, but not like I was dying.
This is where my life became divided into two parts: before diagnosis and after diagnosis. I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had already spread to my bones and liver. I knew this was serious. I quickly found out what it feels like to be dying. I was in the hospital an average of three times a month. I was 44, and not ready for my life to be over. How could any of this be true when I took care of myself? I exercised, ate right and led an active lifestyle.
From December until May, I felt as if I'd die at any time, spending days in a row sleeping at times. I was sure it was over. Then, my oncologist put me on a new medication called Xeloda. Within a month, I was out of my wheelchair and moving again. I had regained my appetite. My tumor marker numbers were going down each month, significantly. I started feeling well enough to educate myself more about my illness. As I spent less time in the hospital and more time at home or doing activities, I felt it was time to see what I could do to help others with this disease. This month, I became a volunteer for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and I'm excited about that!
It is very frightening to have a terminal illness, never knowing when your "time" will be. But then again, none of us can be sure about that. I've met so many amazing women, and yes, one man with metastatic breast cancer, and have lost a few to the disease already. This will continue to happen, and one day, it will be my turn. But I can say that with Xeloda, I've improved so significantly! My tumor marker numbers were all three in the 50,000s, and now they are five, 24 and 48! As my numbers go down, I feel better and better each month.
I did recently get diagnosed with brain metastasis, which is a definite bump in the road. The Xeloda is working wonders for my bones and liver, but not for my brain, creating a new and frightening chapter in my journey. I now spend my time advocating for myself and others with MBC. I educate myself about it and share the word whenever I can. I worry about the amount of people with breast cancer who eventually end up with MBC. I can't change the fact that I have this disease, but I will at least do what I can to help others with it by providing samples, doing drug studies or getting more information by attending conferences and events. My battle will never end. I will never be able to hold up a sign that says, "I'm done with chemo!” I won't ever be DONE with treatment. My hope is that there will be more focus on research for metastatic cancers, so that those with it may some day be able to say it isn't a death sentence.