My name is Barb and I live in Nebraska. My story began back in the summer of 2015. I started experiencing pain in my rib cage and went to an emergicare center one weekend due to the pain. They did a chest X-ray and a CT scan. I was told I had pleurisy, given a script for pain and sent home. The pain got better for a while but later that fall, it was back and my lower back was also hurting. I went to my GP doctor, who said I needed physical therapy and was put on Neurontin. Did PT with no noticeable improvement....
In December 2015, I went in for my yearly mammogram. Thought everything was fine till the sweet little nurse ran half way across the parking lot as I was leaving, asking me if I could come back inside. The radiologist was still there and wanted to look at something a little closer. Well, by the end of December I was 99% sure I had breast cancer. Surgery was set for January 2016 and after a lumpectomy and removal of 6 lymph nodes, I was told I had stage IV metastatic breast cancer. MRI's and CT scans showed bone mets on my back, rib cage, sternum and at the base of my skull. I also have spots on my liver.
Port for chemo was installed in February and I started chemo in March 2016. We started with Abraxane, then after about 10 months we switched to Adriamycin. In July of 2017, we switched to Taxotere. So far, we've been able to shrink a few spots on the liver and nothing else appears to be growing. The word "stable" is a good thing.
The worse rough spot has been developing osteonecrosis in my jaw last fall. I am divorced and live by myself. I have a fantastic sister and her family who are with me every step of the way. I still work full time but am thinking about retiring sometime this year. I am 62.
Things I would tell anyone just starting out on this journey: DON'T surf the internet!!! Listen to your doctors. Don't focus so hard on numbers and 'average life expectancy.' Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone is not the same. We may all be traveling on the Cancer highway, but the route we take and what we will see and experience along the way will be different. Live and love each day you have to the fullest. Some days won't be as easy as others and it's perfectly OK to have those days were you just want to curl up in bed and cry. Live, love, laugh and travel if you can. Do it NOW. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone asks about my diagnosis and the future and they come back with the typical, 'Well, we could get hit by a bus tomorrow.' I have learned to bite my tongue and mumble, 'bless your heart.' Sometimes I'll tell them, 'This is true but you are standing on the sidewalk. I'm standing in the middle of a four lane, undivided highway with no traffic signals....' Stay positive and don't lose your sense of humor!!! For me, it makes a big difference on those tough days!!
-- BJKinNebr, diagnosed metastatic in January 2016
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of Breastcancer.org nor are they intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.