"Hi, there, I'm Amanda. I'm 33 from Australia and found out about two and a half months ago I have stage IV metastatic breast cancer. It's turned my life completely upside down.
"I'll start from the beginning. I work full time at a supermarket I'm 2IC of the delicatessen, so heavy lifting is what I do. I started getting really bad back pains about a year before diagnosed -- they were continually on and off. Anyway, every time the doctor would give me Tramadol and Panadol Forte, every now and then suggest I see a physio and send me on my way. After my (what felt like 20th) visit, my mum grew tired with the laziness of the doc and tells her she wants an MRI for me, so doc agrees. Had the MRI and they found a mass on my spine to which, on the Friday, my doctor referred me to a neurologist, but I couldn't get in for a month. My mum worked at a private hospital and on Monday begs another neurologist she knew to see me, to which he agreed, so we got the referral changed to him. At this point I couldn't walk at all, I had to hold on to somebody to get anywhere and the pain was excruciating. That afternoon, he rang up and said he wanted to see me right away, to which I struggled to dress, and got mum to drive me straight up. He took one look at me and said I will be admitted to the public hospital now under him. No worries. So, off I went to hospital.
"I was in there a week having scans and everything else and was told my c 11 and 12 (I think they're called) in my spine are completely destroyed and they need to operate. Then Monday [the] 8th I was operated on; it took 9 hrs and 4 litres of blood, but it was done. I spent 5 days in ICU, and the day I was moved to a ward, we had a family meeting called up in which I was told the mass in my back was cancer and it was secondary, therefore I had to have biopsy on my breast where they think the primary is. So more poking and prodding and then it was confirmed. I was told I have stage IV metastatic breast cancer. My whole world collapsed. People were talking and I had no idea what they were saying -- was just something I couldn't comprehend. As I was trying to soak that up, my main goal at the time was walking again: I was so determined I wasn't going to be in a wheelchair. I pushed myself a little harder and within four weeks after the operation, I was walking on my own, no frame, no help, nothing. I was so excited and the all the nurses, surgeons and specialist were all shocked to see me stand up and walk unaided; they thought I would be wheelchair-bound or, best, walking with a frame. So that to me proved I will get through this and I have tried to stay positive. Coming home was hard to do, as I had to stay at my mother's for a few weeks because I was starting radiation and didn't know how I would react, and my boyfriend was at work till 5 in the afternoon, so I was home alone all day there. I stayed there a week into my radiation and decided to come home as mum returned to work the second week in and, as you all probably agree, there's nowhere more comfortable than your own bed.
"So I've been home ever since, and it's been driving me into depression as I've come of a full time pay to a government pay, which I get less a fortnight then I earned in a week. So that's been hard. Plus the tamoxifen I think has a lot to do with my emotions; I've come from someone who never cried to someone who cries at least every two days. It was also hard being told I will never be able to have children; before all this, me and my boyfriend were trying for a baby so that was like a huge kick in the guts. I find it hard to talk to any of my family or my boyfriend cause, as soon as I say something sad that they don't want to hear, their mouths shut or subject changes. I guess that's why I joined here, so there are people who know what I'm going through and can relate to my feelings and are willing to listen. I've tried being positive but I find it hard at times especially when the bills are piling up and you can't afford them. I get in my head with, 'Is this how I want to live the rest of my life, struggling?'
"I don't know if I'll ever get back to work permanently. I'm hoping I can at least find something part time cause I really hate sitting at home. I've seen the chemotherapy specialist twice since I was released from hospital and both times he was happy with the way the tamoxifen is working, so no need for chemo yet. The neurologist didn't want to see me for another 6 months, and the radiotherapist was happy with the outcome and didn't need to see me anymore. So that my story so far. I'm sure there's going to be a lot more and a few years on top of that. I will not give up my fight!!!"
-- Mandy211282, diagnosed metastatic in August 2016