Barbara: Changing Priorities
My battle began in 2006 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. My cancer was early stage and non-invasive but because of a family history I made a decision to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. By choosing a mastectomy I was able to avoid chemotherapy and radiation. I was 51, a single mother of 3 with a busy life and I didn't have time for this. After a divorce a year earlier I had gone back to college and was working on a Master's Degree. A full time job, 3 children to raise, working on a graduate degree AND breast cancer. I had no idea the journey I was about to begin. I fought hard with a smile on my face, a positive attitude, a lot of prayer and support. I was taking good care of myself, getting regular checks, eating right, exercising and enjoying life. I completed my MBA and landed a great job. Life was finally clicking! Five years since the time of my diagnosis was a short month away - I made it - I was a Survivor!
Little did I know that five years almost to the day of my earlier diagnosis I would be sitting in my Oncologists office - again. I had a cough that would not go away and was having difficulty breathing. A scan showed a questionable spot on my lung. It was biopsied and it showed the spot was cancer. My breast cancer was back and was now Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. The cancer was ER+ and was in my lungs and my bones. How could this have happened? I did everything right! My Oncologist said the cancer was incurable - but treatable. I would be in treatment forever! It was nothing I had done or didn't do - I was in an unfortunate small percentage of women that would have a recurrence of an early stage cancer. I immediately started taking an aromatase inhibitor. It worked for 10 months before the cancer outsmarted the drug and I am now on a different anti-hormonal medication. The side effects are bothersome and sometimes painful but the majority of the time I am doing well. I continue to do my own research on Metastatic Breast Cancer and have found invaluable information through the MBCN. I am one of 155,000 women, and men who are in this fight with MBC. This exclusive club is made up of strong, devoted, wonderful women who each have a story. The stories are inspiring!
My priorities have changed in the last year. I value the time I spend with my children, my grandson and my friends. I take more pleasure in simple things like going for a bike ride or watching a good movie. It's okay if the house is not as clean as I'd like it to be or if it takes a little longer to get chores completed. I continue to work full-time, but my employer has allowed me to work from home which has been a blessing. Every month when I get my injections I can't help but feel blessed for feeling as good as I do. The infusion center is full of women and men who are in the battle of their lives fighting cancer. I have hope that I am going to win this battle and be here to write about it in 10 years. I am optimistic but realistic. My goal is to share my story and spread the word about MBC. I want to let others know that people like me are strong and focused on surviving until there is a cure!
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