"I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer with metastasis to sternum in November 2015. My original diagnosis was April 2013 at Stage IIB. Tumor was at 11:00 and up against sternum so likely mets prior to diagnosis. I had a bilateral mastectomy in June 2013 and experienced significant pain for a variety of reasons (i.e. significant side effects from anastrozole, frozen shoulder, then significant sternum pain for 9 months prior to eventual diagnosis of Stage IV mets). I offer this information to encourage fellow survivors to be assertive with doctors, PAs and NPs (and even oncologists!) who say right away you have one diagnosis and don't order tests. My young Harvard-Medical-School-educated oncologist diagnosed my sternum pain as costochondritis the first day I told her about my pain in March 2015. Following suit, the professionals at my primary care office ordered an X-ray only, and sent me to a physiatrist who ordered hydro and physical therapy and told me it could take years to overcome costochondritis.
"When I went for a routine surgical follow-up in November 2015 (mastectomy follow-up) my breast cancer surgeon asked me if they had ever ordered a PET scan or CT scan. Within one week I was diagnosed with mets to my sternum, which was ravaged with lesions. I underwent a sternotomy and reconstruction with an amazing surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital. I receive all of my care at MGH Boston now. Even though my suburban oncologist was an MGH oncologist, she was young and new and was not exclusively a breast cancer oncologist.
"I am so blessed to have excellent health care in the Boston area. I encourage all survivors to get the best health care you can get and to assert yourself regarding tests and diagnoses. If something doesn't seem quite right, keep asking the questions and inquiring about further tests, treatments, etc. We all deserve the best care we can possibly get.
"I don't know any of you, but I am an active participant in a support group and I offer you my thoughts, prayers and support as we take this journey together. There is so much joy in daily living and I hope each and every one of you is able to find that joy and experience it to the best of your ability each day and each moment.
"I need your support to stay positive and handle the pain, treatments and emotional hills and valleys that come with this disease.
"I am thrilled to join this forum and I send you all good juju!"
-- Sophie_7, diagnosed metastatic in November 2015