Sarah: N.E.D. after 4 years
I was 28 years old, only a few years out of college. I had a beautiful son and a great career. Without warning, I noticed a ping pong sized lump in my left breast. I waited a week before I went to the doctor, thinking I had just banged into something and that it would heal on its own.
When I did go to the doctor, she said I was much too young for breast cancer and that it was most likely a cyst, but she sent me to the breast clinic to be examined anyway. After many biopsies, mammograms, and a breast MRI, I was told that I had breast cancer. At the time the breast cancer only seemed to be in my breast, so we scheduled a mastectomy for the following week. Before my surgery I was going to have to meet with an oncologist to discuss chemo after surgery, and have a number of scans just to be sure everything was contained to the breast.
Two days before my scheduled surgery, I found out that the cancer had spread to my liver and sacral spine. It was clear at that point that everything had changed. My surgery was cancelled and I was no longer curable. I was metastatic, and at some point I was going to die of breast cancer. My plan for surgery was changed to chemotherapy first, then possibly surgery, radiation,and more chemotherapy. I was going to be on some sort of chemotherapy for the rest of my life. My doctors never gave me a timeline, yet I knew that living another 5 years would be a dream.
I am now 32, and my son is 12. Thankfully the drug regimens I have been on have kept the cancer at bay and I am currently considered No Evidence of Disease, which means the cancer is too small to be detected on scans.
I am almost 4 years out, and I have no plans on going anywhere anytime soon. Thanks to medical research for metastatic breast cancer I am still here, and my son still has his mother.
Editor's note: Sarah Merchant died on Friday, June 12, 2015 at age 34. Living Beyond Breast Cancer offered this tribute: Sarah was trained as a Young Advocate in February 2013 and shortly after that she became a Helpline volunteer. She was a wonderful volunteer on the helpline supporting those diagnosed at any stage and any age.
She shared her numerous gifts with LBBC by blogging, participating in Twitter chats, fundraising and helping LBBC redesign our logo earlier this year. She was a passionate advocate on behalf of young women with metastatic breast cancer, and she touched thousands of lives through her volunteerism with LBBC and other organizations. She will be deeply missed.
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