Anne's Story: 11 years and counting...
I was first diagnosed in January 2003 with Stage II-III (I fell into both categories), ER+/PR+, Her2+. I was 42, married, and a mom of 3 boys: 11, 5, and 2-3/4. Just like everyone else, this was not part of any plan I had made! Initially, I found a lump doing a breast self-exam in November 2002 but since I had lumpy breasts I thought I would wait a month to see if the lump stuck around. In January, I felt the lump again. Nothing showed up on a mammogram (now I know it was because of dense breasts) but ultrasound showed the lump; a needle biopsy followed, with diagnosis of breast cancer in my left breast..
Before I met with the surgeon, I intuitively "knew" both breasts had to be removed; I needed to eliminate all fertile ground for any future cancer, and since I am a Libra, I like to have things balanced . Six rounds of A/C chemo (which was considered aggressive at that time) followed surgery and I thought I was good to go.....but....then....the...backache.
It started 10 months after chemo ended. X-rays showed cancer in my left hip and L5 pedicle. This time I was a basket case; I couldn't breathe. Upon learning at a second opinion appointment that I would never be cured, I had my first panic attack. My husband, however, was positive because he heard that while they couldn't cure me, they could treat my cancer.
Since fall 2004, I have been living "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". This is an emotional ride and hard at times. I have had radiation andan oophorectomy, and am always on treatment. I live life in chunks of time between PET scans, and have learned to live with my cancer like an unwelcome houseguest. My cancer in my hip has been NED for a long time! The cancer in my spine ebbs and flows and a spot in the right hilar region was radiated killing the tumor but permanently affecting my breathing. There are now other spots in that area that we watch.
I push on with gratitude, a sense of humor, and "keep on keepin’ on". I don't "dance" with the cancer but with my husband . I can't run, but bike, walk and "yoga". I am still a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and volunteer when I can. I take supplements. I don't eat a lot of sugar, don’t drink caffeine, and drink a very minimal amount of alcohol. I eat plenty of vegetables and fruits and hardly any meat. I listen to affirmation/visualization tapes. I keep up with breast cancer news –and amalways on the lookout for what is in the pipeline.
I have good days and bad days but have a positive outlook. My faith and prayer are strong and I know I don't and can't do this alone. My docs keep me alive; my husband keeps me sane with his love, humor and commitment; my boys let me forget the cancer at times, keeping me grounded. My family and friends are my safety net so that I don't fall into the abyss.
The cancer is always with me, but just like an unwelcome houseguest, I have to make the best of a situation forced on me: I have cancer, but the cancer does not have me!
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