“I am lucky to have a pretty good quality of life to date.”
I was denovo metastatic breast cancer diagnosis in 2009, meaning that I was Stage IV from the start. Most people with metastatic breast cancer were previously treated for early stage breast and then had a metastatic recurrence.
But I am among the 10 percent of people who are metastatic from first diagnosis. I started with a low volume of bone mets.
Over the past 10 years, liver mets have joined the party, too. I am lucky to have a pretty good quality of life to date. My cancer is estrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative which is the most common breast cancer subtype.
I am currently on my sixth line of treatment. This means I have had to change treatment five times after my cancer progressed. I have been fortunate to have been on some drugs for years at a stretch.. The median survival for metastatic breast cancer is 2.5 to 3 years. I am truly fortunate to have defied those odds.
I want to stress that it isn't like I tried harder or did anything different from other patients--to date my cancer has been fairly slow growing...biology is destiny and I can't take any credit for that
To date, I haven't had IV chemo, but that is likely next. I am hoping if I can stick around long enough, something better will come along.
We lose 40,000 people annually to this disease in the United States and half a million worldwide. While I have seen some important treatment innovations over the past decade, I have lost and continue to lose many friends to this disease.
Many people don't understand that Stage IV breast cancer is chronic, progressive and ultimately fatal. When someone dies from breast cancer it's because their cancer spread to a distant site (typically bone, lung, brain or some combination therein). We don't fully understand the metastatic process--it's important to support research that will help us identify and overcome mets.
I never thought I would see the day when metastatic breast cancer drugs would be advertised on television. I hope this translates into better outcomes and greater public understanding of this disease. We can never lose sight that behind these huge advertising budgets are the lives of real people--some of whom either can't afford the drugs or aren't eligible for them, due to the prior treatment or the biological makeup of their disease.
I am fortunate to get my care from an NCI-designated cancer center. They are the best of the best.
Every drug that we have today got its start in a clinical trial--and the ranks of Phase 1 trials are generally made up of Stage IV cancer patients. I want to thank all the patients who came before me and have helped me have effective treatments.
I live in the Chicago area. I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2009, with a small volume of bone mets, when I was 43.
About a year ago, my cancer spread to my liver. I am now on my 5th line of treatment. My mom also died of metastatic breast cancer–she had inflammatory breast cancer (no lump, sudden onset) and died at age 53 in 1983. Stage IV breast cancer is chronic, progressive and ultimately fatal. It’s about time we change that!
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