Joani: Using Connections to Cope
Hello, my name is Joani and I am a wife, mother, dog lover, mystery reader, vegetarian, skilled listener, board member of MBCN and person with triple negative metastatic breast cancer. I was first diagnosed with stage 2 Er+ breast cancer shortly after I turned 40, eight years ago. Some birthday gift. My children were 6 and 8 and I absolutely had NO time for cancer, but it had time for me. I had a relatively standard course of treatment - mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, chemo and adjuvant therapy. I thought that I was done - after all, wasn't I a SURVIVOR?
Three and a half years later, after experiencing significant chest pain, I was diagnosed with bone mets. The tumors were so vicious that they had broken two of my ribs. The emotional effects of this cancer were equally as traumatic. Worries about my family pummeled my heart. In an effort to move forward, I put my energy into "willing" myself to overcome pain so as to convince others and myself I had a minor disease. This, I admit, is not always the best strategy but, for me, it has worked. I became involved in MBCN as a way to channel my pent up emotions, to connect with others and to continue to use my professional skills as a psychologist. Working for change is sometimes a good antidote to the fact that I can't change the fact that I have cancer.
My treatment with anti-hormonals and bisphosphonates was successful and for nearly three years I coasted. One year ago, the cancer spread to my liver and a follow-up biopsy determined that I was no longer Er+, but now triple negative. I have been on oral chemotherapy for the past year and due to progression, I am now set to begin a new IV chemotherapy. As I contemplate this change, I know that my coping strategies will be challenged. I may need to ask for help... But for now, I go to the gym every day, see clients a few hours a week, invest my heart and soul in my beloved family, tend to my attention-loving lap dog, visit with friends and connect with others with this disease through my work with MBCN.
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