"Hi, I am Nanette, 54 years old as of May, initial diagnosis in June 2015 with Stage IV breast cancer (invasive mammary carcinoma with lobular features, ER/PR+, HER2-). Earlier this year I had a mammogram, no cancer detected. In April/May I was experiencing lower back pain that progressively got worst. An MRI was done, tumors in my back were discovered and two fractured vertebrae (T-12, L1). I was referred to oncology, an in-office biopsy was done on my left breast. Following the procedure, I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer; breast cancer in my left breast that spread to lymph nodes under my armpit and bones in my back. I had 10 radiation treatments, am currently on anastrozole (Arimidex) and monthly infusion of Zometa.
"The hardest part has been 1). the initial diagnosis, Stage IV breast cancer with no prior breast cancer, 2). a mammogram six months earlier, no cancer detected, and 3). finding out there is no cure, that I'll likely die from BC: how long will I live? Emotionally, I was in shock, unable to get my mind around what Stage IV/metastatic breast cancer is, if no cure, what are treatment options, what questions should I be asking my oncologist, and what am I to expect daily, monthly, in the next year? I was dealing with tremendous pain in my back and limited mobility. After the metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, I was given radiation and Zometa infusions to help relieve pain in my back. I had 10 radiation treatments over three weeks. My back was slowly getting better, however the side effects of radiation set in. The radiation was focused on the area between my breast and torso. I had a hard time eating for 6-7 weeks, was losing weight, and atrophy in my legs had set in.
"What helps me the most? Initial months following diagnosis were rough, progressively feeling better with support of my husband/caregiver. Daily long walks, eating well, research/reading metastatic breast cancer topics and stories have been key to my physical and emotional well being. I was off work for three months, returned full time in September which helped me get some normalcy back. My interests are traveling, cruising, skiing, biking, and cooking; we've booked several future trips and a cruise next year, something to look forward to.
"Things that people have done that are helpful include sharing an article or book on metastatic breast cancer: surviving it, treatments, clinical trials, etc. I am beginning to reach out to others with metastatic breast cancer, and think it will be helpful as they are going through similar emotions, experiences, treatments, etc.
"What would be helpful to someone newly diagnosed, etc.: Reach out and engage with the metastatic breast cancer community, there are lots of resources, blogs/forums/discussion boards, and others who are going through similar emotions and experiences that can help with initial shock, controlling emotions, and overall wellbeing."
-- Faith_Hope, diagnosed metastatic in June 2015