I was originally diagnosed five years ago at the age of 37 with what was thought to be stage 1 breast cancer.
In the month that passed from my MRI to my double mastectomy, it had exploded to stage 3 grade 3 with 11/21 lymph nodes and all 4 sentinel nodes infected.
Chemotherapy was aggressive. Four months with max dose Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxotere. I was beyond sick.
I had several trips to the ER in need of fluids from the unrelenting nausea. The bone pain and abdominal cramping seemed like they would never end. I had sores on my lips and in my mouth. I lost control of my bowels. With one month left to go, my organs began to fail.
Because I was living in rural Hawaii and only had access to a small community hospital, there was not much they could do.
I got the feeling that my doctors anticipated my death. I began to think that was where I was headed.
It even seemed like a good option. I did not think I had anything left. The pain was too much, and I thought my fight was over.
At my lowest and darkest moment, I was begging to die.
I do not want you, the reader, to think I am writing this to preach. This is my experience. We all have our own.
In the midst of my begging, I was visited by what I believe to be God. It was neither masculine nor feminine, but the best of both and very parental.
I was held and all my pain and nausea vanished. I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed and felt intense unconditional love and joy.
I knew I had a choice; I could go. But just as I was melting into that idea, I saw an image of my niece and my nephew and then my father. I knew in that instant I wanted to live.
I wanted to be a part of the world my niece and nephew grew up in, and I did not want my father to be broken by the pain of losing a daughter.
That was all it took. I was back and so was the pain and nausea. But I knew I would survive. I knew that I had the fight in me to see my battle to the end and live.
So I did.
It was rough, but I finished chemo and skipped radiation, opting instead for Eastern medicine.
I found my way back to life and am now thriving as a survivor.
I realized how toxic so much of my life was and made radical changes. I ended my marriage, stopped working so hard, and learned to take time for myself. I found great joy in my day to day life.
I learned to love myself just as I am. That because of my battle, I was better. I was stronger. I was tapped into a warrior I did not know existed.
Eventually I moved, met a wonderful man, and remarried this past February.
Unfortunately, I was pushing myself too hard and not listening to my body.
Then in June, on the anniversary of my original diagnosis, we heard those horrible words. The scan showed metastasis of the breast cancer. After denying that it could be and convincing myself they were wrong, the biopsy was irrefutable; metastatic breast cancer.
In the past month and a half, I have had every scan there is and multiple MRIs. I am fortunate. It is only in a few vertebrae and very early.
I am undergoing radiation to relieve nerve pain from a small tumor pinching my brachial nerve. After that, systemic drug therapy will take care of the rest. I will be moving to Florida in the next month and have access to clinical trials.
I am grateful for each day. I am giving myself the space to heal and loving myself well.
I am a warrior and will continue this fight.
I firmly believe that between my vigilance of self care, positive attitude, and the ongoing leaps we are making in cancer treatment, I will see a cure in my lifetime.
Actually, I’m counting on it.
HI ➡️ FL
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
Keep fighting Kate! You are stronger than you think you are.