Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hello there, I'm Teresa

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, lumpectomy, and subsequent mastectomy 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 lymph nodes, 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.


  1. How wonderful to discover new love, in the midst of all your turmoil!

    May you enjoy many years together, filled with health and happiness.

    We look forward to walking down the aisle with you! (in spirit)

    We look forward to hearing all about your journey!

  2. Congratulations on your engagement and on living life to its fullest, even with all of the challenges you have been thrown!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I love your life plan - to live it to the fullest.

  4. Wow, I do love the punchline!!! (I'm still smiling). Medical science continues to move on aggressively. I never thought the in 2 months the brain mets could reduce by 78% and...here I am beginning to think that I have more years left in me than I'd dreamed...

    Thank you for sharing the whole story and saving the best for last. Having a partner/partners in this journey make all the diffference!