My name is Teresa and I’m a 44-year old southern gal from Alabama. I have two wonderful children (Meghan, age 14; Jimmy, age 9), two beautiful cats, and two energetic mini-Australian Shepherds. I also have Stage IV breast cancer.
Originally diagnosed in February 2005 at age 39, I found the lump myself and had my first mammogram. Over the next two weeks I had a biopsy, ultrasound, , and subsequent of my right breast (the tumor was larger than first thought and it had spread). At that time my cancer was graded Stage II (T2N2MO, ER+/PR+). By April I was on chemotherapy (A/C then Taxol) and a few months later I was given 28 radiation treatments. I lost all my hair and was very sick for months. Follow-up scans indicated the cancer was gone. I began taking Tamoxifen and hoped for the best.
Our family had big plans for the next year to do things we could not during my illness. We bought a new boat and the children were really looking forward to that summer. Unfortunately, my husband passed away in May 2006 from a heart attack in his sleep. He was only 47. Just as I was beginning to feel like myself again, my life fell spectacularly apart.
I made it through all of that somehow, and the children and I struggled to get used to life without their father. Being a single Mom is difficult at times and, thankfully, two years passed during which I continued to have a clean bill of health. Then in March 2008 I began to have severe back pain. My oncologist sent me for a scan and gave me some bad news: the cancer had returned and it was in my bones. I had tumors in my spine and in one hip. This changed my diagnosis to Stage IV and I was devastated. Fourteen radiation treatments were immediately scheduled due to the location of the tumors putting me at risk for spinal cord compression. After that I began monthly bone treatments (Zometa). My next scan was clean and I went back into remission.
Since then I have had two more recurrences and undergone chemotherapy both times (Ixempra, Doxil). I am currently receiving Abraxane due to very small tumors in two , my spine, one hip, and my liver. Two weeks after the first treatment, my hair began to fall out. Sadly I am bald again, but can feel the lymph node above my collar bone shrinking more and more. I am looking forward to my next scan and praying for a good report.
My life has been full of ups and downs these past five years. Sometimes I’m not quite sure how I made it through. I strive to look for the good in all things and try not to focus on my cancer too much. In spite of everything, I feel the Lord has blessed me tremendously. After all I am still alive, my children are happy and healthy, and I just became engaged to a wonderful, loving man (something I never expected in my wildest dreams considering my health issues). I will never give up hoping for a cure; but in the meantime, life will continue to go on and I plan to live it to the fullest while I’m here.