Jill’s Story: Living with mets for 12 years
Name: Jill Cohen
City: Seattle Area
Age at Diagnosis: 42
Age Now: 55
Subtype: ER/PR+ HER2-
My philosophy? “Dum vivimus, vivamus: while we live, let us live!” Life is precious, and in a very real sense, we all have the same amount of time — today.
I’M STILL HERE!
I know many women don’t live as long as I have with mets (12 years as of August 2014), and I think I provide hope to many even though I have mets to multiple bones, liver and brain, long-lasting neuropathy and lymphedema as well as the usual fatigue etc. associated with years of treatment. For my story, here’s an excerpt from my 3rd blog post on May 3, 2006:
The day I got the diagnosis that my cancer had returned and spread to my bones, I went home on crutches, lost my balance, and broke my leg.
Later that same day I was rushed to the hospital with a pathological fracture of my left femur. A bone scan revealed metastases to the bones in the back of my skull, sternum, spine and both femurs. It also turned out that a constant, nagging cough was probably a small metastasis in my lung.
During this time I experienced overwhelming distress at my cancer’s recurrence with metastatic disease. I cried buckets of tears with my husband, family, and friends. However, the support of those who love me enough to supply companionship and food helped me realize that I wasn’t dying today. Swedish Medical Center’s Providence Campus Comprehensive Breast Center’s staff psychiatrist at the time, Dr. Judith Lipton, gave me new perspective on living with cancer (and better living through chemistry!). Writing in a journal, even for 15 minutes a day, helped me explore my feelings and find meaning in my cancer experience. A weekly support group for people with advanced cancer, monthly support group of young women with breast cancer, and on-line support of women living with “mets,” as we call it, brought me to new communities of people walking in the same shoes. Getting a service dog helped me navigate my “new normal.”
I’ve told my story frequently in the press over the years, and you can find my blog here:
We are sorry to share that “Dancing With Cancer” blogger Jill Cohen died on August 11, 2016. Jill lived for a remarkable 14 years with metastatic breast cancer. She was 56 years old.
“Jill’s last dance with cancer occurred this morning at 11:18 today at hospice at Swedish at Cherry Hill in Seattle,” wrote her husband, Rik, in a Facebook post. “She was not in any pain. Susan her sister and I were there holding her hands as she breathed her last breaths. She lived life to the fullest, and wanted no “pity party” so do not mourn her death but celebrate her life by living and loving each other. Thank you to all for the hugs, love and reachouts from around the globe. Jill and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”