A couple of days after my second child was born I noticed a lump in my breast. At first we thought it was just a blocked duct as it seemed to decrease in size after I breast fed. As the weeks went on and it didn’t go away we started to realize that it was most likely something else. I remember sitting the the doctors office thinking this can’t be happening as he told my husband and I it was cancer. I had just given birth to a baby girl, my life was supposed to be centered around trying to find balance between the pressures of being the mother of two small children and finding time for myself. Not this… Not this. The surgeon told us the lump was stage 2, high grade, triple negative, and my lymph nodes seemed fine but they wouldn’t know until surgery if it had spread. Everything seemed to indicate we caught this early.
A couple weeks after the surgery the pathology report came in. Good news, the margins were clear and it had not spread to my lymphatic system. I had stage 2 a. The surgeon referred me to the breast clinic at Princess Margaret where the medical oncologist walked me through my risks and a treatment plan. If it all went well, the chemo would be over by Christmas. Even better the type of cancer I had was triple negative which although hard to treat, when you get past the 5-year mark your risk for reoccurrence is very low. The oncologist recommended we do a bone scan and a CT scan to make sure the cancer had not found a way to circumvent the lymphatic system and spread to other places through the blood stream. Much to my relief he said that they weren’t expecting anything as its rare for cancer to spread to other organs through the blood stream.
As the time approached for my tests to come back, I started to get nervous and called PMH to enquire about the results. My medical oncologist was on vacation so the radiation oncologist agreed to see me and go through my results. The news was not good. The cancer had found a way to spread to my lungs. Suddenly I have moved from a cancer that is curable to one that is not. I am officially stage 4. This means that my chance for survival past five years is low, and I will be living with this disease for the rest of my life. It changes everything. We were devastated.
What follows is my journey through healing and coming to terms with stage-4 cancer. I hope to come to a place of acceptance and empowerment on my journey. I hope that the cancer in my lungs will stay dormant and stop growing with chemo. I want to see my children become adults. I want to grow and maintain the connections and love I have with the people around me. I want this experience to grow and change me. I want the time that I have to be balanced, full of wonder, exploration and beauty. I want to make connections with my creative side that I just haven’t had the chance to do up until now. I want to live each day to the fullest of my ability and cherish every minute that I am given.
See also my blog “Building an Incurable Cancer Club” chronicling my journey advocating for change and awareness in the young adult metastatic/advanced/incurable cancer community.