I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer on April 21, the Monday before Easter. I was 35 years old. I went to the doctor because of pain in my upper right side, underneath my ribs. I didn’t know what it was, but I had a loss of appetite and this awful pain. They ordered blood work and my liver function came back as abnormal. They scheduled an ultrasound and found that my gallbladder was really inflamed. I was pregnant at the time, probably ten weeks pregnant. They wanted to remove my gallbladder so it wouldn’t cause harm to me or the baby.
When the surgeon was in there they saw that my liver was very peaked looking, gray, so he did biopsies. Two days later it came back that I had cancer in my liver. My husband was with me when I got the news. We thought we were young; cancer wasn’t in our minds at all. I was in shock. That’s the only feeling I had. Just shock.
Cancer does not start in your liver, so we had to schedule a mammogram and a colonoscopy. We did the mammogram first, and cancer showed up in my right breast. So by the time I found out I had breast cancer, it had already spread into my pancreas, of course my liver and my C-1 vertebrae in my neck. I spent 18 days in the hospital, very sick, because my gallbladder was removed and my liver was almost ready to shut down. It was a really trying time.
When we were in the hospital, because of the chemo treatments and the Herceptin, I lost the baby on May 5, right at 12 weeks. That was a lot to process. My husband was right there with me, afraid he was going to lose me, too.
But we’re doing good now. After 10 weeks of treatment, I had a PET scan, and it showed my cancer was 95 percent gone. We think that in itself is a miracle. I’m living proof that I can beat this. I need to be there for my kids. I can’t think about leaving them.
The toughest part of this journey for me has been not being able to do the things that I used to do with my children. I have a 6-year-old girl, a 5-year-old girl and a 16-month-old baby boy. I told my kids that Mommy was sick, and that Mommy was just in the hospital for a few days. It was very tough to tell them. Dad had to do it. Dad had to read the books because Mommy would cry.
But the kids have adjusted. We explained to them that Mommy was going to lose her hair before it happened, so they were aware of that. And we explained to them that “Mommy has cancer.” We had to explain what that was, and they’re doing really well with it now.
I think the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation is a wonderful foundation. Every cent that you donate goes toward finding the cure for breast cancer. We’ve got to have a cure… for me… for my children, so they don’t have to worry about this. And for other families, so they don’t have to have the word “cancer” spoken in their homes.
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