Three years ago, I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. Earlier this month, after weeks of scans and tests I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. The cancer has spread to my bones. When I finally got the news of the diagnosis, I was not surprised. My moment of shock came about 4 weeks ago when I met with my oncologist for the first time after the initial scan. I could tell from the moment he walked into the room that something was wrong. Of course, we had to be sure, so weeks followed of more scans and tests until the diagnosis was finally confirmed.
I feel like I ran full speed into a brick wall and ever since I’ve been stumbling around, trying to come to my senses. My thoughts and feelings have been sluggish, as if my brain (which thankfully is not affected) is sitting in a pool of glue and the neurotransmitters are struggling to reach the proper destinations as they slowly wade through the viscous environment that my brain has become.
I am starting this blog as a way to communicate with those who may be interested. I am not a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, but I am going through some things that I think others can relate to. Writing also helps me sort out my thoughts. I’m anticipating posting my thoughts on dealing with cancer and young kids, family relationships, working with cancer, my faith and feelings about death, politics (ha, just kidding), and my experiences with the healthcare system.
I will close out today by providing a quick summary of my experience thus far. I was initially diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, or a pre-cancer of the breast. After a double mastectomy and removal of some lymph nodes, pathology results determined I had breast cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes. More lymph nodes were removed and it was determined that, as far as anyone could tell, I was cancer-free with a 13% chance of recurrence in the next 5 years. I did a course of chemotherapy and started hormone therapy to prevent a recurrence. About three years after the initial diagnosis, I noticed I was having some pain in my sternum and decided to get it checked out. Scans and a biopsy confirmed the breast cancer had spread to my manubrium, which is the bone that connects the sternum and clavicle. Because the cancer has spread, or metastasized to a different organ, it is stage IV cancer. There is no cure at this point. I am hopeful that radiation and a few different drug therapies will put this into remission for some period of time, but we really have no way of predicting what will happen at this point.
My husband recently asked what I was most afraid of. My primary concern is my sons, ages 4 and 7. I am by no means a perfect mother, but no one should have to lose a parent at a young age. Up until this point, my life has been preoccupied with raising my kids to be decent human beings and planning for the future. Now, I don’t know what to think or how to proceed. My mind has paused as I struggle to modify my plans. The only thing I can do is take one day at a time.