"My story started in December of 2000. I had been called back to redo a mammogram. This had happened to me a number of times and I have a strong family history of breast cancer. My mother died of it. Two maternal aunts had it too. One died of it. So, while I dreaded it, I suspected that one day it would also be my fate. I was 50 years old. My mother and my aunts didint get it until they were 75 or older. However, they did not take hormone replacement treatment either, as I did at my then-doctor's urging. Sigh...oh well.
"When I redid this mammogram, sure enough, it was cancer, I remember just feeling frozen. Here it was. I knew it was coming but never thought it would be here so early.
"I spent the next 10 months in treatment. Two lumpectomies (to get clean margins), chemo and radiation. It was all over in Oct 2001 and I was so relieved! I could get on with my life. I hoped and felt like I was truly cured! I saw my medical oncologist every six months but all was well and it stayed well for nine and one half years! I was sure by then that I had indeed beaten it and I would die of something else!
"Then one day I was washing my hair and felt this little lump on my scalp. It didn't hurt, it was just there. Over the next six weeks or so it did not change in any way. I decided I better go to a dermatologist and see what they thought. The dermo referred me to a surgeon which worried me a bit, but still I was not alarmed. The surgeon removed it in his office and had it biopsied. Guess what? Metastatic breast cancer! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I remember saying to him...'on my head???' He assured me that it could indeed be on my scalp. He referred me for a PET scan. Back to my oncologist now, who informed me the scan revealed that the cancer was in my bones (many areas, in fact, a neck vertebra that was about to break). And two lesions in my liver. When I heard that, I was convinced I was close to death. I kept wondering how I could possibly be so loaded with cancer and yet feel so normal? It had just snuck up on me. I had been on tamoxifen for five years, then the hormonal drug, Arimidex for over four. I had done everything they told me to do. I thought I was cured!! Four weeks of rads to my neck began to stop it there. Then six treatments of Taxotere (aka Taxoterrible).
"At this point I started checking out the internet. I found BCO and thank God I did. It has been the most helpful, wonderful supportive thing I have done. Through information gleaned here, I located and participated in two clinical trials. I have made good friends who have helped me through the worst of times, just as I hope I have done for them.
"So that started off my journey with metastatic breast cancer. I have now been fighting for four and one half years. It is a struggle without a doubt. Very rough at times. But I have some wonderful friends and family who have walked with me every step of the way. I knew I loved my husband but this has shown me just how very much. I still have the same wonderful oncologist who directs me in my battle. I trust him implicitly. I obviously do not know how much longer I have. But I hope to live the best I can until my fight is over."
-- justjudie, 5 years metastatic. justjudie passed away on July 4, 2015.