"I am a fortunate woman."
I am a fortunate woman. My first breast cancer diagnosis came in 1996, on Christmas Eve. Chemo and radiation tamed the beast for 17 years, until I developed another cancer: my thyroid. It's thought that the thyroid supplements may have awakened the beast again.
The next year, we found I had a Stage III recurrence on the very clip my surgeon left behind. More chemo, a mastectomy, BrCA testing (I'm BrCA2 positive) and another mastectomy, we stared at my next adventure, skin metastasis, for six months before they realized I had taken the next stage, Stage IV Metatstatic Breast Cancer, by storm. Oh, what a storm!
In October, 2016, my world changed from one with a normal future to one where the future may only be measured in months, because years are not assured. The average lifespan for someone with my cancer is about three years. This month marks year two.
In that time, I've burned through four therapies. My disease has progressed from skin to bones and liver. There have been moments already where I wondered and felt as if I was on the final path.
Now my life is filled with doctors testing and scans, bloodwork, and surgically implanted ports because my veins just can't handle it anymore. I retired, no longer able to help companies create amazing digital products as I once did.
Why am I fortunate, you ask?
*I am living in the age of genomics and targeted therapies.
They looked at my genes, and my cancer, and picked one that will target my cells. This may buy me some valuable time. A year or two. Maybe 10. It's possible now.
*I have a great loving husband, daughter, family and friends.
It's shocking how many of my sisters lose everything and face this monster alone.
*Today was a good day.
You learn to take the wins as they come. I really hope this therapy is doing some good (scans next month), because this is the best I've felt in ages. I am relatively pain free. I count this as a win for as long as it lasts.
Still, despite news media reports, there is no cure for my disease. We suffer daily and trade it for more time here with family and friends, knowing that the sword of Damocles hangs above us.
But the sun was bright today. I ate well. I saw beautiful things with the man I love.
I really am a fortunate woman.
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- New York
- New Jersey