It all started with a lump…
At the age of 31, I was diagnosed with stage 1b intraductal carcinoma. It was life shattering. I underwent six months of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, and healthy dose of PTSD. For the five years following, I diligently went to check ups, followed my doctor’s advice to the letter, only to be told at my five year checkup that the breast cancer had returned, this time in my bones. I was now stage IV and terminal.
At the time of metastatic cancer diagnosis, I had never heard of it. Even as a cancer survivor, it had never been explained to me that it could return in different areas of my body. My oncologist at the time foolishly used the word “cured” on more than one occasion. You can imagine how devastating this diagnosis is to someone who felt relatively confident in her education on breast cancer.
It has been five years since that horrible day. At 41, I can honestly say I am fully living my life with metastatic breast cancer. It has now metastasized to my lungs in addition to most of the bones in my body. It is painful and exhausting, yet I am here. I celebrate that daily. I am a single mother to my 8 year old son and thankfully, I am still able to work full time. This is not the life I thought I would be living, but it is my life now and I’ve made peace with that. In between being a mother and working, I dedicate a lot of time to writing about my cancer experience for my blog, The C Life, and various publications I’ve been lucky enough to be included in. I’ve recently become an advocate for AdvancedBreastCancer.net, hoping that others finding themselves in my shoes won’t feel as alone as I felt, especially in the beginning.
My greatest lesson in all of this is that there is still a very real, fulfilling, life to be lived with this diagnosis. I’ve always been a realist, but I do have hope for a long life. By adding my voice to some of the very powerful ones speaking out, we are already seeing some change in the way MBC is treated and discussed. We have more to do…and I’m here for it.
Written by: April Doyle, MBC ANGEL Advocate