I have Metastatic Breast Cancer…learning of my cancer diagnosis was devastating. Being a nurse I started prepping myself immediately, I knew what a cancer diagnosis meant but I also knew I was going to fight no matter what. I was initially in shock, but after a few days I started to prepare for the road ahead of me. My husband, Matt, from the moment I called him after my abnormal mammogram and every day since he’s been amazing. He reassures me constantly that no matter what he is fighting with me. He remains positive no matter what our doctors say. He told me from the day we heard the news I was the strongest person he knew and cancer had picked the wrong person. Matt came up with a phrase early on, Moore Fight Moore Strong, and since that day I vowed to fight with every ounce in me, no matter what I face at any time I’m never giving up. Moore Fight Moore Strong grew into something bigger than I could have imagined, I’ll talk more in the future of just how amazing MFMS is. Shortly after learning I had MBC I began to read blogs, articles and every treatment option I could find. I found myself constantly reading my mammogram and ultrasound reports, I researched every aspect of the reports, trying to make sense of it and mostly looking for some positives. I was preparing for the tough road ahead, initially hearing Stage III Breast cancer, the doctor questioned whether or not I had a slow growing tumor versus a rapidly growing tumor due to the size at diagnosis. Stage III, I thought well it’s not metastatic and I can treat this and recover, the statistics were better than having Metastatic disease. According to Susan G Komen website “Non-invasive (stage 0) and early stage invasive breast cancers (stages I and II) have a better prognosis than later stage cancers (stage III and IV). And, cancer that has not spread beyond the breast has a better prognosis than cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. The poorest prognosis is for metastatic breast cancer (MBC – stage IV), where the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to other parts of the body.” So stage III obviously worse but treatable and curable versus MBC, so despite the statistics showing a decreased survival rate it was still positive, but going to be a hard fight. I also carried the worst case scenario, Stage IV, in the back of my mind, I prayed daily that would not be my reality. To rewind, and share how I even ended up having a mammogram I will start from the beginning. I was elbowed playing in a local women’s basketball league. Days’ following my left breast was swollen and I noted a lump as well as some bruising. Like any nurse I figured I would give it a few days and it will go away. After a couple of weeks I decided I should get it checked. I went to my gynecologists who was concerned enough to send me for a mammogram. I figured great it’s nothing but she wants to be sure, in my mind there was no way it was breast cancer I was young and had absolutely no family history; my doctor was taking the right precautions just to be certain. My mammogram was scheduled a week later, it was in the morning so I figured no worries I’ll go on my way to work. Matt offered to go several times I kept telling him it’s not a big deal I’ll be in and out of the appointment and head to work after. I went in for my mammogram at the local imaging center, seemed easy enough I was planning on being in and out in no time. I found myself sitting in a waiting room by myself in a johnnie listening to some music, actually getting more nervous as I sat there. It wasn’t long before I was in the room getting setup for my mammogram, a younger women, very nice explained the procedure and explained that the radiologist who was working would look at the images after she was done. She had said that he will either clear me to go or if he was concerned I would have an ultrasound but not to worry usually patients are finished quickly and don’t need ultrasound. Easy right, just what I thought I’d be in and out. Well not my luck, I waited patiently in the waiting room, yes still in a johnnie. I just figured it was normal, just waiting for the radiologist to say I was good to go. The woman who completed my mammogram came back twice; she then said that the radiologist wanted me to have an ultrasound. Ok great I thought, he must be questioning something he saw. I was escorted to the ultrasound room, greeted by another nice woman. She reviewed the procedure and began the ultrasound I watched anxiously as she took multiple images. I stared at the monitor as she was completing the ultrasound and tried to make sense of what I saw, but I had no idea what I was looking at. The woman was very quiet not saying much, seemed to me she was taking a long time. She finished her images and told me she would have the radiologist look at the images and explained he would either be in to talk to me or she would return and I could go. I guess at that moment I figured if there was a problem then the doctor would be in. I was feeling anxious at that moment; I thought to myself I should be gone by now and on my way to work. I had wished more than anything at that moment I had Matt with me. I kept telling myself they were being cautious and it was nothing. A few minutes later the radiologist returned with the ultrasound tech. He sat in front of me and said that he was sorry to tell me but he believed I had a breast tumor, and I would need to have a biopsy to confirm anything. I had atypical hyperplasia which the ultrasound confirmed. He recommended a biopsy to confirm what he was seeing on the images. I read the reports over and over for days, in big bold letters at the end of both reports it said HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE OF MALIGNANCY- FOLLOW-UP RECOMMENDED. Specifically, the final impression of the ultrasound report noted a large, ill-defined left breast mass, correlating to the palpable abnormality that I could feel. This confirmed what was seen on the mammogram; extensive clusters of pleomorphic calcifications in the left breast. A breast MRI was also recommended for follow-up, the biopsy was planned to be completed at the same time. I left the office and sat in my car and cried, I stared in disbelief at the passing traffic thinking to myself was this real. I called Matt he was speechless, he told me not to worry we didn’t know anything yet. There was no way I was going to work I couldn’t even think about anything else at that point, I called my boss and she told me not to panic and stay home. The following day I went to work, at that point no one knew what was going on, just Matt. I was scared and anxious and needed to know sooner than a week what the biopsy showed. My primary care doctor I know very well and worked closely with, so I reached out to him, trying to see if there was anything he could do to help me get in for a biopsy sooner. He called a fellow surgeon who was willing to see me that afternoon, a Friday but I wanted to stay with who the radiologist recommended. Without hesitation my doctor called and insisted he see me sooner, that I could not wait, I was young and worried, and he expressed his concern that I had to wait. Within an hour I had gone from an appointment one week out to going in the following Monday. I waited anxiously all weekend, tried to keep myself busy and not think about anything after all I didn’t even know what was going to happen. There was no sense in worrying, and I didn’t want anyone to worry so I didn’t share any of what was happening with anyone. On that Monday Matt and I went to the appointment. I was anxious and had no idea what to expect. We waited anxiously to see the surgeon; initially he was going to discuss the biopsy with us and what the procedure would be. He reviewed my history and explained the biopsy. He examined me and honestly took one look at the size of my left breast and immediately looked concerned. I was panicking on the inside, I looked at Matt and he was concerned. The doctor explained that he changed his mind, he was very concerned and told us because he could feel the tumor he was going to do a punch biopsy. So I went from a pre-op biopsy appointment to a concerned doctor who felt the biopsy had to be done right away. I was freaking out inside, fighting back tears. The biopsy was done in the office, it didn’t take long. The doctor again appeared very concerned and explained to both of us he was going to get the tissue sample out as soon as possible. He reiterated that he was very concerned but he could not say definitely whether it was Cancer or not without the results of biopsy. I was scared, my heart was racing and I couldn’t believe this was happening. I looked at Matt and he looked terrified. I wanted to cry but I held back, I was trying to be strong for Matt but I felt like curling up on the exam table and crying. It would be several days before we would get results. The doctor was great reassuring us not to worry; we knew nothing until we had the results. Matt chased him out of the exam room, he wanted to hear the doctor tell him everything was going to be ok, but I knew there was no way he could say it was. No matter what we were going to hear, I was going to fight. Days later Matt and I went back to the surgeon’s office for biopsy results. We arrived and I could hear the whispers of staff stating we had arrived. My stomach turned, I knew what we were about to hear was not good. My heart was racing, my palms were sweating as we sat and waited to be called to an exam room. We were brought to a room, greeted by the doctor and a nurse. He introduced the nurse to us; she was from the Seacoast Cancer Center. I had a feeling going in I was dealing with cancer, but I prayed everyday it wasn’t. The doctor explained the biopsy results to us; Estrogen positive breast cancer, Stage III according to pathology reports. I was silent, maybe if I didn’t hear it then it was a not real. I couldn’t say anything; I was at a loss for words. Matt and I listened as the doctor and nurse spoke. The doctor was trying to be positive, giving us hope and reassuring us that what I had was curable; there were other women my age who recovered from this. I couldn’t say much, I just listened and cried. They explained to us that I would have a series of tests to complete and would meet with the oncologist to review everything and a treatment plan. I left that office feeling defeated, Cancer was attacking me. I was devastated and didn’t know what to think. Matt was reassuring, promising me everything was going to be ok no matter what. The idea of telling my family and friends made me sick. It was at the point I had to tell them. I wasn’t even sure what I’d say, I did not want anyone to worry and I wanted to protect all of them. We decided at that point we needed to let people know what was going on. I was gearing up for a tough road ahead and I knew we needed the support of our family and friends. We spoke to our parents and siblings, families and friends; I hated the thought of even talking about it or having people worry. Telling my parents and brothers was hard, we all cried, it was something I wish no one ever had to do. I wanted to protect them; I didn’t want them to worry about me. We are blessed with an amazing group of friends who we consider family and sharing with them that I had breast cancer was difficult too. I was sick thinking about talking to people about it, if I was talking with them about it then it was real. I can remember telling my best friend Laura, I hated it, just like I hated telling others. She worried, and I didn’t want her to worry about me. From the moment I told her and every day since she has not skipped a beat, supporting both Matt and I every step of the way. The news was very difficult to share but if I was going to face cancer head on we couldn’t do it alone. We were facing one of the toughest fights ahead of us, and with the love and support of so many there was no other option than to fight.
As Matt had said from the beginning,