Triple Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer
Full Name: Stephanie F
Type of Cancer: Triple negative breast cancer
I was in remission for 6 years after my first breast cancer in 2011 when in 2017 I had my first recurrence. The cancer came back in the original spot. In 2011 I elected to have a lumpectomy & radiation. I don’t regret that decision because I had 6 years where I was cancer free. But with extreme work stress from 2014-2017, I didn’t take care of myself and the cancer came back more fiercely than before.
I’ve had 5 recurrences from 2017-2019. 2 in the same original spot, 2 in auxiliary lymph node and now in my lungs. I had a single mastectomy in December 2017, 2 rounds of chemo in 2017-2018. I celebrated finishing chemo in May 2018, Little did I know I would be back there.
2 months after finishing chemo, I had my scans and it was a breast MRI and CT scans that saw the cancer was back but in the auxiliary lymph node. I had surgery to remove the node with clear margins and did 5 weeks of radiation Fall 2018. On New Years 2019 I found out the cancer was back in the same area of the auxiliary lymph node. I had surgery in January 2019 again to remove the node with clear margins.
At the end of February I had a diep flap reconstruction surgery for my left breast area. To date this was the most extensive and painful surgery I’ve had. It took me a good 5 months to recover and I’m still recovering from it. I couldn’t stand straight for 3 months. My stomach area is extremely tight as I didn’t have a lot of excess skin. I will never be the same again. I have dark scars hip to hip and also all around the new breast flap. But at least I have volume in the left breast area, something I didn’t have for 14 months. I could wear any cute tops or dresses, it was sad and made me feel self conscious.
Once again in July/August scans found that the cancer was back but had spread, it was in the auxiliary lymph node again and nodules in my lungs. The nodules were growing in size and also multiplying. My oncologist chose a clinical trial for me to be in where it’s specifically for triple negative metastatic breast cancer patients, based in Europe. I did scans, blood work and paperwork to qualifying and be approved. My oncologist always fights for me and he got me into this clinical trial. I am only the 2nd person in the US in this clinical trial.
I started chemo August 1, 2019. It’s a minimum of 6 months. Should I need more time in it then I can stay in the trial.
I am about to start my 3rd Cycle this week and I am honestly not looking forward to it. This chemo is way harder than the previous chemo I’ve done before. The first cycle, I had severe diarrhea after week 2 and ended up severely dehydrated and needed 5 days of hydration. They said I should’ve been in the hospital it was that bad. My oncologist and the trial coordinator monitor me closely and they always think of preventative options to help the side effects. Since this trial is new, it’s a trial by error and they treat me as side effects come up.
The 2nd cycle was like the first cycle getting sick with vomiting and diarrhea week 2. This time only 2 days of hydration.
It is the daily chemo pills that seem to make me the sickest. But that is what is trying to kill the cancer.
I’ve been doing my best to keep positive and pushing forward during this hard long cancer road. Some days are harder than others. I find myself crying on the toilet feeling faint and sick and wanting this all to stop. Then the fighter inside me says to keep going and beat them.
I have my first follow up CT scan tomorrow since before starting on this clinical trial and I’m anxious to see the results and see if the chemo is working. It has to be, to be worth all this suffering I’ve been feeling the last 2 months. This trial is my only treatment option right now, so it has to work.
I’ve shared my cancer journey publicly for the last 2 years on my social media to help others going through cancer to not feel alone as I did back in 2011 and 2017. I also want to share my journey to those who have never been touch by cancer before and to tell them honestly what it’s like, so it inspires more compassion and empathy in the world.
I’m blessed with amazing support from my family, close friends and all my social media followers who encourage me to keep up the good fight and to keep pushing forward… one step and one day at a time.