Happy Wednesday. All this week, as promised we are going to share another inspirational story from a met sister. Meet Lori Nelson.
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?
Before cancer I trained horses and taught riders lessons. I showed and coached at shows. I was also a vet tech. After I got cancer I had to stop doing what I loved and went back to school to become an Ultrasound Tech. I was diagnosed Stage IV in my last semester. My chemo made it too hard to attend class and it was also very difficult to drive home as I was so tired.
What is your official diagnosis. Tell us about your current treatment .
In 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage IIB bilateral breast cancer. Left was Stage I. I have DCIS ER/PR+ HER2 – left breast. IDC and LCIS ER/PR+ HER2- right breast. Grade 2 both breasts. 20 nodes taken from right axillary, 2 sentinel nodes positive. 2011 diagnosed with mets to spine, shoulders, ribs, pelvis and two nodes in my lung. Too numerous to count. No organs involved. I am now NED.
How has cancer changed your life? Did you have one pivotal moment or has the journey been one of progression and growth?
I had to learn to like my new life. This was easier for me because after 7 concussions I had to learn to like the new me with the new restrictions and loss of memory and balance issues. Then when I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time I had to learn to like the new me with chemo brain, memory loss and taking drugs every day. By the time I got Stage IV it wasn’t so hard. I accepted the new me.
I volunteer more now and I accept things better. If I can change something I will, If I can’t change it, I don’t worry about it. I don’t worry about much. What will be, will be.
How do you live your best life now, thriving with a metastatic diagnosis?
I stay very active. I volunteer at the cancer center, I take my Therapy Dog to the hospital each week as I am able to visit the patients. I exercise and I am active with my friends. I go to watch shows now and still have my horse. I can no longer ride him but I still take care of him. I try to teach people about MBC on my FB and my CaringBridge. I get very tired now and can only do one big thing a day and need to sit more. Heat and humidity is hard on me. I need to take more naps. I feel like God directed my life and let me learn from the horses how to be patient, accepting and calm. I think he prepared me for the challenges I am facing now.
What makes you most happy, and where do you find the most joy?
My horse makes me the most happy. This was the same as before cancer. My dogs are the next thing that makes me happy. I have the best friends and family and they make me very happy. I am very blessed and getting cancer made me more aware of it.
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?
When I applied for disability the lady asked me how long I was going to live.
What did or do you find most helpful for those wanting to encourage or help you?
My friends will help drive me if I need it. They will also help me with things that I find hard. They have even helped when I have had an emergency and ended up in the hospital. They will pick up my dogs and take care of my mom.
Do you feel that those of us living with metastatic disease are overlooked by the pink tide of awareness for early stage cancer in October? How would you change that?
We are definitely overlooked. I think we are all aware of breast cancer and don’t need to have millions of dollars spent on awareness, especially when they can’t tell us what the awareness is or where the money is being spent. I would like to see people being educated on MBC even as early stage. It is scary to know that you may get MBC but that is no reason to not talk about it. Since supposedly 30% of early stage cancer will turn to MBC I think 30% of the fund they bring in should be directed to MBC research.
What do you want people to know about YOU and your life living with this disease?
I am still me. I may look different. I may not remember things. I don’t like to be stared at. If you have a question then ask but don’t stare or whisper about me.
Do you think our cure is near?
No. I think they are just finding out how complicated breast cancer is. I see small steps coming.
What is one “action” point everyone could do TODAY to promote awareness of MBC?
Research and learn. Bring awareness on Facebook. Teach your kids so they know the truth. Teach one person at a time if that is what it takes.
Do you have a favorite poem, song, quote, or work of art that you would like to share with us?
I’m going to love you through it – by Martina McBride
Thank you Lori for sharing your story with us.
If you would like to contribute to an organization that sends 100% of its monies to research and funding a cure, please visit: Metavivor.