Friday, October 7, 2016

What does a stage4 Breast Cancer patient look like?

What does a woman with stage 4 breast cancer look like?  She looks like this.  This is me with my daughter, taken about 2 years ago.  I don't look sick do I?  Unless my scars are showing I don't even look like I had/have cancer.  For the most part I look pretty normal to strangers who don't know me.  But what doesn't show is the chronic pain, the scar tissue, the damage from radiation and chemo, the fact that my breasts are still lopsided, the list of daily medications and supplements I take, and the fear that I live with every single day. 

Stage 4 breast cancer looks like a normal mom who takes her kids to school, goes grocery shopping, cooks dinner, has lunch with friends, works, goes to the movies with her family.  Stage 4 breast cancer is not the same as other cancers that are stage 4, and not all stage 4's are the same either.  Mine happens to be Metastatic stage 4 which means that breast cancer cells moved from the original tumor site and decided to grow.  In my case, breast cancer cells moved and actually ate a HOLE in my iliac bone, which is in the lower back and it infected lymph nodes in the middle of my chest.  It was caught and treated but I can never be cured of cancer and live with it as a chronic disease having to manage any further occurrences or as the doctor's like to put it, "flare ups".  My cancer can come back at any moment for any reason, or another cancer can invade my body and I have to live with this every single day.  Cancer is a mean girl, a real bitch and she doesn't give a f*ck how much she destroys.  My job is to be on her ass, making sure she can't get very far, basically I have to be a bigger bitch, which is fine, because I am good at that. :)

So much of stage 4 is underneath the surface.  It's not easy living with stage 4 cancer, it may look that way on the outside, but it's not.  Being proactive in my own care and staying on a cancer fighting diet helps as does faith and knowing God has a purpose for my cancer and I use it to help others fighting the disease. 

The key to living with my stage 4 cancer is maintaining my own nutritional and immunotherapy as well as following doctor's orders and monitoring my body with routine tests and scans.  Stage 4 is not always a death sentence.  It's not a walk in a park, but it can be manageable and a fairly normal life can be had.  I am living proof.