Today’s interview comes from Beth Harold. Beth has been living with MBC since 2007. Her rollercoaster ride, has had its share of heartache, like most other metastatic thrivers, but her will to live is inspirational. I loved this whimsical paragraph in her recent journal ;
You know that I, will always thrive. As long as I know how to love, I know the love survives. I still have my life to live, I have so much love to give, I wont “Thurvive” but I will thrive ~ yeth …. Canther go. Walk out the door. Juth turn around now, you’re not welcome any more. Weren’t you the one who tried to break my tumored thpine, I did not die, and I will hold my head up high! Oh yeth, Beth, I! I will thtill thrive! With thinging lithps and thilly thongs to keep my thmile alive. Thank you, my fwends thupport my famwy at my thide, yeth we thtill thrive to keep on thriving juth to thay we are awive! we’ve thpent oh, tho many nighths juth thinking why? (Thupid canther) why? But now we wont take life for granted, juth thank God that we’re alive!
Can you share with our readers what your life was like before you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and how you got to the stage IV diagnosis?
BBC (Before Breast Cancer) I was a healthy thirtysomething married working mom, with 2 busy soccer player boys aged 10 and 12. Nice house in the suburbs of Minneapolis, 2 dogs, pretty gardens and the Mississippi River in our back yard.
Life was good.
I was 38 when I noticed my breasts didn’t look right. The nipples did not match. One was darker and less perky. 2007 was a long year with chemo, a bilateral mastectomy radiation and recovery. 2008 started with breast reconstruction using my tummy tissue and about 1 square inch of muscle. 8 weeks recovery, included tummy tuck and NED (no evidence of disease) on my scan.
6 months later just after my 40th birthday, a follow up PET/CT showed ten tumors in my bones. These were scattered from my skull shoulders collarbone down my spine to both hips and the top of my right leg.
What is your official diagnosis?
Initial dx 3/2007- stage 3a grade 3, ductal carcinoma, Her2-, Er/Pr + braca gene – ,local invasive to nodes. Primary tumor was 6cm and the first lymph node 2cm. Total of 16 nodes were removed on my right arm, 4 of them had cancer. 18 months later:
September 2008 recurrence :bone mets. 6 1/2 years of treatment continues, too long to list, documented on caring bridge.www.caringbridge.org/visit/bethherold
How has cancer changed your life?
My world changed forever, there was shock, adjustment, new normal, then hope. Next year the rug was ripped out from under me right after my dad died of cancer. I faced a slow painful march towards certain death. But we put on happy faces and continued living in the moment to cope with what seemed like a chronic disease.
How do you live your best life now, thriving with a metastatic diagnosis?
I tell people I love them, try to write down stories and make time to visit. I am disabled due to the side effects of constant treatment. I sleep. I watch birds. I wish I could walk the dogs and work in the gardens. But after fracturing my back from lifting a baby, I slow down and try not to get hurt.
What makes you most happy, and where do you find the most joy? Is this different than BC (before cancer)?
Same things bring joy: love of family & friends, music nature & pets. I have much more time to reflect, now that I no longer work outside the home. Social Security and long term disability made it possible to retire at 41. That made me live longer- again i would take the reduction of work stress over less money stress. Being home with our kids was great medicine.
People mean well, but often they don’t know what to say, so they say the WRONG thing. What is the worst thing someone has said to you.
It’s the young ones who are the ones that die.
Good thing they caught it early- after they clearly had not listened to what I just said. They figured if I was only 38 it was “early”?
What did or do you find most helpful for those wanting to encourage or help you?
Offer to feed my kids, help husband with shopping and food prep, walking dogs, driving kids to soccer, day to day support.
Do you think our cure is near?
No. There are too many types of cancer and they continue to mutate/evolve.
What is one “action” point everyone could do TODAY to promote awareness of MBC.
I don’t think we need to be aware, I think the real stats scare people. I just think more research dollars should reflect treatments on late stage. If 30% of all BC ends up with MBC, even after 5 years, even if they were early stage at initial dx, then 30% of funds should be spent on MBC. Help us live as long as we feel good. Help us feel as good as we can for as long as we can.
More from Beth’s caring bridge journal:
I’m thtill that thame thilly auntie Bethie who gave kids piggy back rides. Tho what if I now thpend more time juth laying on my thide. Keeping weight off sthpine hipth pelvith watching pretty birds outside. We have such a comfy couch and a princess chair besides? Keep Joy alive. Although our trips around the thun are limited by time. Reflect and thank each precious moment that the sun will always shine, pleathe be kind to thranthers, keep those hopes & dreams alive -& they will THRIVE ~ if not thurvive. It does not matter juth how long we live ~help each other to be strong. Make people happy on their path and they will path that happy on. Then the world will be a better place, we’ll all just get along? Pleathe breathe and thmile ~ through every mile. Not just “survive” but live to THRIVE. Throughout our lives, make differences in little ways, just keep that spark alive!
Thank you Beth for sharing your life and journey with us.
If you would like to share your story of living with metastatic breast cancer, then I would love to hear from you. Email me at Lkailani@gmail.com. I will send you all of the details. Your story matters, someone needs to hear your voice. It may be the one that inspires another to action.
Until next week,