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I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in January '08. The previous 3 months I was given repeated antibiotics for 'mastitis.' During that time my husband was laid off. The first week of January, my doctor called me at work to tell me I had cancer and to see an oncologist ASAP. He couldn't get off the phone fast enough and I never heard from him again! My oncologist diagnosed me with bone mets. The rest of the year was a blur.

Then to finish the year with a bang, my mother died unexpectedly several days before Christmas.

My only regret with my treatment is that I had the mastectomy in the first place. Then I chose not to have any reconstruction. I was just sick of being sick. As a matter of fact, all the while I was having chemo I was told the gold standard at the time was a total mastectomy. It had to be done for the best outcome. To me, having stage IV cancer, 'the horse was already out of the barn.' I just felt a mastectomy was not right since the cancer was way beyond the breast.

Several years later, the standard changed for those of us who were fortunate enough to be HER-2 positive. A mastectomy is not recommended anymore. I still regret not doing what my body was telling me.

Now 6 years later I wish I had done immediate reconstruction. Each time the prosthesis shifts I hate it. Then it's too big or too small due to weight changes. Hate it again even more. Now I just hate my body. I am starting to research reconstruction but keep changing my mind. One week I'm having it and the next week I'm not. I'm scared I'll be sorry with this choice as I am with my original decision.

I am tired of having IV Herceptin every 3 weeks for the last 6 years. I feel tethered to this life of cancer. Then I remind myself that I am fortunate to have a medication available to keep me alive. Not all breast cancer patients have this opportunity.

I still have the best oncologist around, possibly in the U.S. -- Dr Patricia DeFusco is wonderfully honest but kind. She is also stronger than cancer. Early on I was crying in her office and mentioned that I had one foot in the grave and without missing a beat she told me when she was done I would not even be in the graveyard. She is right.

I have to keep pushing myself to enjoy life but it's not easy.

-- Anna-Bill74, 7 1/2 years metastatic

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of nor are they intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.

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