"My life feels rushed, as I find myself fighting the thought that I need to try to fit in a lifetime of work, of love, of family time, into the space of a few months to a few years."
I was diagnosed metastatic de novo in 2017, and for the first year of my diagnosis, enjoyed relative stability. Despite the enormous challenges of finding a new rhythm with metastatic breast cancer, my disease was held at bay. However, a year after my diagnosis, I received news that I had progression, and switched treatments to a clinical trial.
Two months into the trial, it was discovered that I had brain metastases. While undergoing stereotactic radiation for the two brain lesions, I also experienced progression of my disease elsewhere. In several short months, I went from bone-only disease to having cancer in my bones, brain, liver, and lung.
I am now on an oral chemotherapy. However, I continue to be the primary caregiver for my son, and continue to write about my illness and pursue advocacy work. In addition, I recently finished the second season of my podcast, The Intersection of Cancer and Life. My life feels rushed, as I find myself fighting the thought that I need to try to fit in a lifetime of work, of love, of family time, into the space of a few months to a few years. It can't be done, and I find myself straddling the sadness that that imparts with the ability to try to stay present in the time that I do have.
I was 32 years old, and my husband and I had just purchased our dream home, and moved to a new town. Our son was turning 2 years old, and we were celebrating five years of marriage. We had started trying to get pregnant with a second baby, and I went for a physical with my primary care provider. She found a lump in my breast. The ultrasound imaging warranted a mammogram, which showed suspicious calcifications. A biopsy confirmed that I had breast cancer.
Meanwhile, I had been experiencing a tremendous amount of back pain. The pain spread to my hips and ribs, and was debilitating at times. I went for a second opinion about my breast cancer, and mentioned this pain. A PET scan revealed widespread bone metastases throughout my spine, ribs, hips, and sternum. I began treatment two days before Christmas that year (2017). The next few months were a blur - I felt so overwhelmed by the detour my life had taken, and so intensely shaken by my diagnosis. I mourned the life I had lost, and crawled deep into my fears of what was to come.
It has been nearly a year now, and I liken my life with metastatic breast cancer to learning to walk on hot coals: they burn you less only because you have become accustomed to the heat, but that does not minimize the exposure or fear of what is to come.
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- New York
- New Jersey