In May of 2012, within 30 days of my mother's diagnosis of IDC. I learned that I had a 6cm tumor in my left breast. Mine is ILC, ER2 Positive and HER2 Positive. There was not option for a lumpectomy like my mom. I had to have a mastectomy. I elected to have both the girls taken, as I felt I'd increase my chances of a total cure if I didn't have either breast. I had breast fed both of my children, and "didn't need them any more". Plus I figured if I got a chance to have a boob job, it might as well be even. I was told that chemotherapy and radiation were not necessary, and to take Tamoxifen for 5 years. I took it for 15 months and was ready to shoot myself! My energy was all gone, and I had a very demanding job, I gained 20 lbs, and was seriously depressed. I went right back to my 80% travel, high pressure sales job. At the first of the year, I began to feel tired again and thought "I just need to change jobs so I don't have to travel so much." So I found an opportunity to go back to my job as a sales trainer. I was thrilled, ready to take on the world, still Wonder Woman and invincible. My husband made it really easy to accept my "new me", as he was totally unaffected by the new equipment and loved me all the more because I was here. So life was good. Just before my job change, I figured I should get check ups. and for the first time, began to think about my cancer again. I thought because I had both breasts removed, that my chances were slimmer for a reccurence (clear margins, no need for radiation or chemo...). But I felt something under my left axial that didn't feel like the right. Long story short, my cancer was back in my soft tissue under my arm, but not my lymph nodes. I was told to expect clear scans...but it turns out I have Mets in my lower spine, hips, and a couple of ribs. I'm only 4 months in...
Needless to say the first 3 months, I felt pretty defeated. I didn't have time to die. I"m the main bread winner in my family. I have two children 16 & 18 who don't have their father in their life regularly and I just started a new job. How could this be happening. There's a lot more to share regarding the "grief" process you go through when you learn you have a disease that can take your life. But you also have a choice in how you think about death.
The day before I found out that I have stage IV breast cancer in my bones, I had no idea when or how I would die. But I knew I would one day, I know I'm going to Heaven, but I just didn't think or live life as if I'm dying. The day after I learned I have a terminal disease, I still don't when or even how I will die. I still know I'm going to Heaven, but I've learned that living knowing you may die is much more fulfilling.
You prioritize more effectively, you worry less about "things", and drink in the life and blessings life has to offer. Cancer has been a blessing for me in the last two months. I allow people to help me, I pray and read my Bible like I always should have, I love love love on my children, husband, dogs and friends; and I look for ways that I can help others to enjoy living. So what, I'm going to die one day. So are you! I know what's important now. Who wants to live 100 years with no joy in their life? I'd rather live the years I have left just as they are, knowing what's really important v. going back to my old life. BTW, I plan to live many years with my cancer! How about you?
Dr. Polly Roberts
Living with MBC