Today’s story comes from Theresa Meyer. When Theresa sent me her photos that she wanted to include for this post, I was greatly moved by the ones of her and her family. She has created a very large legacy and its apparent that “this” is what brings her life, love and laughter. I think I also caught the news via Facebook that they just added a new addition to their family…a new grandson. Congratulations Theresa!!
Can you share with our readers what your life was like before you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?
Prior to my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis I was living my dream. I was married to the man of my dreams. Our children were all married and living happily. I had gone back to school at the age of 54 and got my LPN degree. I was volunteering with the American Red Cross and doing disaster nursing. I absolutely loved being a nurse, traveling, and helping out people when they were so desperate for help.
I had just had my yearly mammogram on my L breast and all was clear, this was July of 2013. My daughter and I had planned a mother/daughter trip for August but there had been a death in her husband’s family so this trip was rescheduled for the first weekend in September of 2013. Three weeks before we were to leave I noticed a lump on my mastectomy side. I watched it closely. It was as if I could see this lump growing every day. I finally said to my husband, “I think there’s a miracle happening”! He said “what”? I said, “I think my breast is growing back”. I asked if he had noticed this lump and he had but didn’t want to say anything. I called my Dr. and set up the appointment for the day after I was getting back from our mother/daughter trip. To make a long story short, I went from my Dr. to a surgeon who took a biopsy. They knew it was cancerous and scheduled a PET scan. The surgeon called me on my cell phone. I pulled over to the side of the road and answered it. The surgeon apologized, and told me I was now stage IV. I was all alone, sitting on the side of the road crying. I don’t remember what I did next or how I even got home.
What is your official diagnosis?
My official diagnosis was ER + PR – HER 2 + with areas of uptake from PET anywhere from 4.3 to 12.5, and the sizes being from 12 mm to 4.9 cm. The areas of concern were the abdomen, chest wall, liver area, and right internal mammary lymph node. I was treated with Taxotere, Perjeta, Herceptin and Aromasin from October 2013 to April 2014.
What is your current treatment?
Since then I’ve been on maintenance treatment every three weeks with Herceptin and Perjeta and taking daily, oral Aromasin.
How has cancer changed your life?
Cancer changed my life back in 1998 when I was first diagnosed but being Stage IV has once again reminded me to “LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE, each and every day!”
I’m just beginning to learn what my “new life” is like, and also what my “family’s life is like.” This is not just my diagnosis; this is a family and friends’ diagnosis. It affects us all!
I had to quit my volunteering with the American Red Cross and with hospice. I just recently began to volunteer with hospice once again. I pray I will be able to have the energy to get back to doing disaster nursing with the Red Cross, but I’m not quite there yet!
Did you have one pivotal moment or has the journey been one of progression and growth?
I would have to say initially I was frozen in time. My mind was telling me I feel OK my diagnosis tells me I’m dying. It took me a while to come to grips with the diagnosis. If you look at statistics, I shouldn’t be here. I had children at a young age, I breast fed each of them. I was never over weight. I ate healthy. I survived my initial breast cancer and my oncologist released me after 13 years and told me to go live a long and happy life, then…………… Stage IV appeared!
How do you live your best life now, thriving with a metastatic diagnosis?
I try and take life one day at a time, but there are days when I have to take one hour at a time.
What makes you most happy, and where do you find the most joy?
My faith, my family and my friends are what makes me most happy and where I find the most joy are with each of these gifts God has entrusted in my life. Is this different than BC (before cancer)? I would hope not but with breast cancer, it has become a lot clearer that this is the only thing that really matters.
What did or do you find most helpful for those wanting to encourage or help you?
The first time I was diagnosed, so many people came and brought food, or if they called and asked what I needed, I told them we were fine, I didn’t need anything. This time when we were diagnosed with Stage IV, most people have stayed away. This may have been because I didn’t take their help 15 years earlier, or maybe it’s because people are scared and don’t know what to say or do when one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
What do you want people to know about YOU and your life living with this disease?
I am still me! I still want to volunteer as a nurse with the Red Cross and with Hospice but I just don’t have the energy to do what I used to do.
Do you think our cure is near? Or what one scientific advancement in the treatment of MBC do you find most encouraging.
I think the new drugs for HER 2 has been a big advancement. I hope and pray there are other drugs which will prolong our lives for those living with Stage IV cancer.
What is one “action” point everyone could do TODAY to promote awareness of MBC.
Write letters to the editor of your local papers about MBC!
Do you have a favorite poem, song, quote, or work of art that you would like to share with us.
My song when I’m down that I listen to is by Mandisa, “OVERCOMER”!
Thank you for coming to visit again on this mets monday edition of #voicesofMBC. If you are living with metastatic breast cancer and would like to tell your story, please contact me at Lkailani@gmail.com. I would love to share your story with our readers.
Until next week…all my best,