Before November 11, 2015 what I "knew" about metastatic breast cancer was limited to: 1. You were a goner and 2. If your breast cancer had metastasized you must not have chosen an aggressive enough treatment. Then it happened to me.
The moment the very first doctor told me I likely had breast cancer, I moved over to MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC). I went through a battery of tests and doctors appointments and was told I had stage II breast cancer. My oncologist recommended chemo, surgery and radiation. I wholeheartedly agreed. It was going to be a rough year, but that was it, I'd get through it and continue on with life. I'd be able to say, "I HAD cancer." I went through 16 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy.
Then one day there was a CT scan
And some suspicious lesions
And a bone biopsy
And finally a conversation with my oncologist that confirmed the cancer had spread to several spots in my bones.
Since then, many of my scans have revealed additional metastatic lesions in my bone. Praise God, I'm still kickin' and feeling pretty fantastic these days, but it's a long road to walk.
So many of us believe that early detection = cure, but that's not always reality. Between 20 - 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer and unfortunately, we don't know much about advanced breast cancer. We don't know why cancer spreads in some people and not in others. We don't know why a treatment could work for 10 years for one patient and not even a month for another. Research and support for the Stage IV metastatic community is desperately underfunded.
Our team - Stomp Out Stage IV Breast Cancer - is participating in the Boot Walk to support MDACC's Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) program, a multi-departmental effort designed to increase the median survival time for patients with advanced breast cancer from three to ten years, improve the quality of life of patients with stage IV breast cancer, and find a cure for stage IV breast cancer. Though it is in its infancy this program is already improving the care of patients in our daily struggle with metastatic breast cancer! Thanks in part to the funds we raised last year, the ABC program has a dedicated clinical trial navigator who communicates with our medical oncologists and ensures that metastatic breast cancer patients at MDACC know about any clinical trials for which we are eligible. The ABC program will also provide much needed funding toward the identification of the causes and treatment of metastatic disease. We can't wait to get our boots on and "Stomp out Stage IV Breast Cancer"! I am so excited about this initiative and know that, true to form, MD Anderson Cancer Center will have a tremendous impact on the lives of those affected by metastatic breast cancer.
You can help me celebrate my cancerversary and help ensure me and my fellow "metsters" have many more. Join me in the fight against cancer so one day no family member or friend is taken from us by the disease. Your support helps fund groundbreaking research that will save lives around the world, improve cancer care delivery and availability for those touched by cancer, and provide better diagnostic tools and tests that improve the quality of life for cancer survivors.