Shortly after I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer, my friend Kristin put me in contact with a woman that she had grown up with who had also been recently diagnosed. Sarah was a woman who grew up in Dighton, the town next to where I live. She accepted my emails graciously and became somewhat of my cancer mentor. She had been diagnosed six months ahead of me, was on the exact same medical regimen as I was and though we had never met, gave me so much clarity and hope in the early days of my diagnosis. Throughout the past five years we stayed in touch via email and FB and kept tabs on each others lives with cancer. I admired how she lived her life the past five years. To the fullest. Sarah’s cancer battle became very difficult towards the end of the year. She happened to be in MA in December and I was lucky enough to come face to face with my dear friend for the first and last time all in one day. No words needed to be exchanged as we had a bond that only one going through this battle would understand. Sarah unfortunately lost her battle on New Years Eve.
Her loss, much like the loss of my other three Metastatic Sisters/friends that I lost in 2020 shook me to the core. My cancer had progressed years before Sarah’s had so for her to pass so quickly was heartbreaking. I started off the new year in a funk….for lack of a better word. I was mentally not in a great place. Terrified, angry, sad. I had also not been feeling my best. I had been doing so well on my medicine that my dr decided to increase my dose a little at a time to test what I could tolerate. Well we found very quickly where my limit was. I had debilitating headaches and extreme fatigue while on the increased dose. Headaches like I had never experienced before. Causing me to be convinced that this beast of a cancer had probably spread to my brain (it has not). My first appointment of the year on January 5th brought forth a mixed bag of info. Great lab work showing that my body was tolerating this medicine well but a significant (in my book) jump in my tumor marker. With scans scheduled for three weeks away we decided to lower my dose back to where it was tolerable and get another cycle of the chemo in before my scans. The headaches are fewer and not as painful as before!
I left that appointment on January 5th, somewhat tortured. Fearful and convinced that my time was coming where this disease was going to start winning. I looked into planning my funeral. Can you imagine planning your funeral at 39? I cry as I type this because it is so very sad. After some thought, guidance and time, I have decided not to plan my funeral. Instead to plan happy things, make memories and to start fulfilling some things that I have talked about and wanted all of my life. I am going to take the next year or so and live like I am dying. Live my life to the fullest and then if I get more time, well what a gift I will have been given. Now, I just have to get the Covid vaccine so we can start!!
I had my first scans of 2021 and on this new medicine last week. Thankfully, they were good! No shrinkage in my tumors but also no growth. While I always prefer to hear the words “Your tumors have shrunk” my oncologist has assured me that the fact that the tumors have not grown is wonderful and more important. She also feels that since I am feeling pretty good and my labs look good I now only have to go into Boston every 6 weeks for labs and to be seen. Great news. Although I have to say, I had grown quite accustomed to being at Dana Farber weekly and miss seeing my friends/nurses so frequently.
At this time last year, I had been told that my cancer was growing quickly and that I needed to move my treatment to Chemo. I am thankful and happy that so far, although it got off to a little bit of a rocky start, 2021 is looking better and I continue to hope that it will be a great year ahead.