October is breast cancer awareness month. My mom has been battling stage 4 breast cancer for 4 years and I have been with her every step of the way. Throughout these last four years we have learned a lot about the disease, so I thought I should share 4 of the more interesting facts we know about breast cancer and ways to cope. I am in no means a doctor, but I hope it helps anyone who is sick or someone who is helping a loved one fight this terrible disease.
Is there an interesting fact you know about breast cancer that you would like to add to the list?
- There are different types of breast cancer and some of them can’t be found on a mammogram. My mom has lobular breast cancer which wasn’t found on her mammograms. She had a mammogram every year because my grandmother passed from breast cancer, so she made sure to have an examination done on a regular basis. About 10% of invasive breast cancers are lobular breast cancers. We found out she had cancer because it has metastasized to other parts of her body making her very, very sick.
- Lobular breast cancer is very sneaky. It likes to metastasize to parts of the body that are hard to get to or see. My mom’s cancer has recently metastasized to the orbital area behind her left eye. We recently heard a story about a woman who has been living with breast cancer for 11 years with it metastasizing to different places all over her body, sometimes more than once, but she has been able to survive because of chemo, radiation, hormone replacements and her will to live.
- There are several treatments making it easier and easier to live with breast cancer. When my mom was first diagnosed with cancer she did a nasty round of chemo for about 6 months. She had to get chemo once a month for 6 months and it made her very sick, but after the chemo she was able to take hormone replacements. She was on the first combination of hormone replacements for almost two years before they stopped working and she felt great! There are many different hormone replacement therapies to help patients live with breast cancer. One of the drawbacks is after you use one and it stops working you can’t go back to it, so you have to move onto the next combination and keep going until you have no more combinations to try. My mom has had another dose of a different type of chemo and has tried other hormones these last two years, but nothing has worked better than then first combination.
- More and more foundations for breast cancer and other diseases are being formed. My mom and I just found out about a foundation for women who are battling breast cancer in our area called Image Reborn. This foundation provides no-cost healing retreats to women diagnosed with breast cancer to empower them to live fully beyond breast cancer. It is a great way to meet people who are going through what you are going through and gain support from each other all while having fun.
Many people have asked us how we keep going and we tell them we try to stay positive everyday. Some days are harder than others, but the important thing is to think of everything we have to be grateful for. My mom was told she had 9 months to live from the first doctor, but she is here 4 years later and plans to keep fighting.