"I found the lump in my right breast in November 2008. On December 4th, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a little over 1 cm. I had a lumpectomy where they found micromets in two lymph nodes. It was triple negative breast cancer, which I didn't know much about, but the more I learned the more scared I got. I started ACT chemo in January 2009 and wasn't finished until June. The hair loss was a real blow to my self esteem. Before I was due to start rads, they did a follow up mammogram. They found DCIS in the same breast. I was beyond devastated. That summer I had a bilateral mastectomy with lattismus dorsi reconstruction. No rads.
"My mental state suffered severely. I was in agonizing pain from the surgery and became addicted to painkillers. I also developed anxiety attacks and PTSD. I suffered from nightmares about doctors and hospitals. I was prescribed antidepressants but they were not much help.
"Three years later, I found a lump in the exact same spot and knew it was back. After an excruciating biopsy at the breast surgeon's, I remember going back to the car with my husband and just sitting in the back seat, screaming until I threw up.
"They removed my new lump and the implant and I had 35 rad treatments. Then I had to go through reconstruction again for the right breast. It was grueling. I developed a lot of fluid that hurt and kept having to be drained. I blame this on the fact that one of my kids brought home lice and we all got it, and I was constantly using my arm to try and get them out of my hair. Terrible timing, not that lice are ever welcome.
"My marriage took a real hit from all of this. My husband did not try to understand what had been done to my psyche and how and why I'd changed from the person I used to be. He got sulky and cruel with me until he finally just checked out of the marriage and set up with a new woman. I finally got the proper psychiatric help I needed and was actually happy when he finally moved out. No more walking on eggshells, I could finally be myself!
"In April of 2016 (a most horrible year), I started coughing up blood. I went to the ER where they found a mass in the upper left lobe of my lung. I had the lobe removed by a thoracic surgeon and yes, it was metastatic breast cancer. I've managed to deal with this mentally much better than I did before. I know that I'm going to die from this. So I'm focusing on my kids, making sure they're set up for the future and we have good times together. My oncologist is trying to get me into a clinical trial but things are moving very slowly. I do have a wonderful boyfriend now who is very sweet and understanding and I forget about all this when I'm with him. So life goes on...."
-- minxie, diagnosed metastatic in April 2016