"Hi everyone, I am Raine. In December I went for a routine mammogram. I had just turned 51. Had mammograms in the past, but not recently. I believed that if there was no family history of breast cancer and the last mammograms were normal, I was golden.
"I was in the room with the tech and she was staring at my breasts and asking the usual questions but maybe a little more thoroughly than I was expecting. She took the images and asked me to wait to see if the radiologist needed better images on the first breast. I figured I had moved or something. When she came back she did some more images. I had an idea that something was wrong when the radiologist came in and told me she was going to do an ultrasound. I knew that there was a tumor there, I could see it on the screen. She said I needed to have it biopsied and I asked if we could wait until after Christmas. (I work in retail as a bra fitter, so all I was thinking about was how I was going to work all this into my schedule.) She snorted.
"Well, I was scheduled for the following morning. I have to admit to being a bit anxious for the results, but as Friday went on, I felt better and better. Surely if there was a problem they would have called me right away. The call came at 8:30 just before the store was to close. My primary care physician said I had IDC and was seeing a breast surgeon on Monday. I don't think I heard a word after cancer.
"After calling the doctor's office in a panic Monday morning -- I had no idea who I was seeing or when -- I met with her, and she is wonderful, as is my MO. I was set up for a bunch of scans the next day.
"She called me the next day. It was in my bones, stage IV from the start. No mastectomy for me. I was so shocked. I had started taking bioidentical hormones in August. I had told the gynecologist that I thought I had fibromyalgia but she cautioned me against self diagnosis. All the things I was complaining about were signs of hormone deficiency. I now know they are also symptoms of cancer. In my defense, I did ask her if bioidentical hormones caused breast cancer. She said, 'Definitely not. There have been no studies showing that they do.' Of course, as I found out later, there have been no clinical studies on BIH period. So, I was feeding the dang thing.
"Fast forward 8 months. I am on Arimidex and Xgeva. We just added Ibrance to the mix. I realized the other day that I finally feel like myself again.
"The good things about a stage IV diagnosis: I no longer put off doing things for myself. Things don't bother me as much. I guess it has made me reassess my priorities.
"I thought I hated my hair until it stopped growing on the Ibrance. And why is it that the only hair on my body still growing is the hair on my chinny chin chin?!!
"I do wish people would stop telling me I look so healthy. It makes me feel like they think I am faking."
-- Raine-Wells, 8 months metastatic