My mBC Diagnosis: A Reflection
No two mBC stories are the same. This is mine.
In 2018, I spent two years going back and forth to the doctor’s office and hospital because I was feeling very sick. The symptoms I experienced were fatigue, bone pain, tight chest, difficulty sleeping, no appetite, and inability to concentrate. The doctor chalked up my symptoms to “anxiety.” Two years of these appointments go by without resolution. In 2020, I was taken to the emergency room at 4:00am for severe pain and diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It took two years to find -- by that time it had already spread to my bones, pelvis, sternum, ribs, spine, and neck.
Immediately my room filled with nurses and doctors in shock that I was still able to function for so long, knowing how much the cancer had spread in my body. I remember my family was sitting on a bench in my hospital room, waiting for answers. Finally, the emergency room doctor came in and said I had cancer that originated in the breast.
I looked at my family, they were crying. I said “It’s okay everyone! What’s next? Is it bad?!” The doctor then said, “It is Stage 4 and has spread to multiple locations, the lesions you have on your bones are from the breast cancer.” Before I could ask my next question, my mom fainted in my hospital room…
The doctors rushed to make sure my mom was okay before returning to answer my questions. After caring for my mom, the doctor was ready to discuss my cancer. I knew I needed to stay strong for my family, this was a sign.
The doctor stated I was going to be set up with an oncologist, scans, mammograms, blood draws, X-rays, and much more before she could answer the many questions I had. I asked her “I understand and just want to know how much time I have, one week? One month, one year?” In return she said, “I can’t answer that, but typically I have seen 6 months.”
What do you do when you have 6 months to live?
You don’t accept it! I decided to make life changes to better my health and prepare for battle. I started with what I put in my body. I changed my diet that day. I wanted to eat clean, so I ate fruit and vegetables and replaced everything I love to eat with a healthy plant-based version. I changed all my drinking water to spring water and alkaline water. I then thought about what I put on my body; I threw all my toiletries away. I replaced them with simple ingredients and chemical free products.
My next step was to make sure my living space is clean for my mental health. I started using all chemical free cleaning products, candles, soaps, etc. I organized every room in my house so I could wake up fresh every day and feel good while fighting cancer.
I then looked at my life and asked myself “What and who doesn’t bring me joy, encourage me, root for me, support me, or care about me? Who drains my energy in a negative way?” Anything or anyone that was a negative energy in my life I parted ways with.
This was healing time, and I needed to hit this cancer from every angle. I pulled in my loved ones and pushed away anyone who didn’t have my best interest in mind, and I was ready to battle.
Chemotherapy came quick. The oncologist wanted to wait to do surgery and first attack the cancer starting with the bones. I stayed on chemotherapy for months.
The combination of hard work, exercise, clean eating, healthy mindset and chemotherapy started to work for me. The cancer was shrinking. Every day I maintained a healthy routine, and I continue to stick to it today.
My advice to anyone that has been recently diagnosed with mBC is to never give up and put everything you can, physically and mentally, into your fight. It won’t be easy, and your relationships may change. Plan to be transparent and set expectations with your friends and family. Let them know what support you need.
What helped me the most was communication. Try staying in touch with your loved ones and setting designated time to check in with them. This will keep them looped into your progress or needs. It’s okay to share with your support system what works best for you!
Every day with breast cancer is different; how can you do your best to keep fighting? How can you do your best to prepare for the unexpected? You make changes to build a better life, surround yourself with loved ones, always be yourself, and keep fighting.
It’s not about falling down, that comes with the diagnosis, it’s about how many times you stand back up.
For additional support, please visit our resources page from our partners in Metastatic Breast Cancer.