pearlady's Story

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"I also did a lot of the right things prior to breast cancer. I was a vegetarian prior to diagnosis and a marathon runner, having done 7 marathons. I was diagnosed in August 1997 with Stage IIIC IDC, with 6 positive lymph nodes. I endured two months of chemo prior to surgery and then 8 months of chemo [after]. After my surgery and prior to the 8 months of chemo I switched to an integrative oncologist who treated with both standard and complementary treatments. Not so unusual today, but back in 1997, it was almost unheard of. Prior to undergoing radiation, I had reconstruction with a latissimus flap and expanders. I honestly found the chemo to be not nearly as terrible as what I anticipated and was able to run through treatment. I was also able to work full time through treatment and continue business travel. But my diet since diagnosis is totally different. I started to eat some meat (only organic and free range) and poultry and felt stronger and more energetic.

"In September 1999, I had a staph infection and had to have my implant removed. In January of 2000, I had TRAM flap reconstruction which has worked out very well. Almost 14 years with no issues and one of the best decisions I've made.

"Fast forward to September 12, 2001. I was feeling great with no symptoms or with no pain. My oncologist's office called to tell me that my tumor markers were elevated and that I needed to get scans. Of course I freaked out. The CT and bone scan did not show anything. A subsequent PET scan however showed bone metastasis to my right hip. Hard to believe as I had no pain or discomfort. I started on Herceptin and Arimidex and was NED for almost two years. My oncologist then stopped the Herceptin and my markers accurately showed progression. Back on Herceptin and Femara and was NED until early 2008. Still no pain or discomfort and scans showed that the progression remained in my bones.

"Since then I've been on various treatments. Some more difficult than others, a few like Kadcyla and Gemzar which didn't work (very disappointing), but through it all I've been able to work and live my life to the fullest. The year with Perjeta/Herceptin was very difficult with gastrointestinal issues, but my cancer was stable and that's what I wanted to hear. Traveling was difficult but somehow I managed, and was still able to travel for both business and pleasure. A year on Halaven was also very difficult with terrible neuropathy. When I think back, it's hard to believe that I came to work every day since I had such difficulty walking. The subway steps were quite the challenge.

"My current treatment, Ibrance/Femara, is working and I'm so thankful. The neuropathy has improved greatly. The side effects of the Ibrance/Femara are minimal compared with some of the other treatments and my mets are stable and still, after all these years, confined to my bones. I honestly have more energy and work longer hours than many of my friends who don't have cancer. I really attribute my long period of stability to the complementary treatments that I have as well as standard treatments. Metformin has also helped to keep things under control. I also get weekly IV of vitamin C and D and Glutathione. I'm still with the same oncologist that I've been with since November of 1997. My friends all laugh at me about all of the supplements I take and the treatments that I do. I honestly never thought when diagnosed in 1997 that I would be here in 2015. Of course I continue to have anxiety with each blood draw and terrible scanxiety and it really never gets any easier. But there are many days that I can forget that I'm Stage IV.

"Blessings to all."

-- pearlady, 14 years metastatic

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