Lately I’ve been visiting a wonderful online forum, www.Inspire.com . It has an advanced breast cancer group, and once in while, I’ll share one of my blog posts and participate in discussions with other members. One discussion really caught my attention: asking people who’ve survived stage IV cancer more than 5 years to share . Lisa Quintana, who is 14 years out from her stage IV diagnosis, is one of those amazing survivors. I asked her to share her story with you, and she graciously agreed:
I was devastated. I was 37 years old and had been told that I had StageIV breast cancer. Three and a half years earlier, when my baby daughter was 15 months old, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and been through treatment. Now they were telling me that I had a 10% survival chance over a 5 year period. I knew no one with Stage IV cancer … and people who knew of others with mets were saying “Oh! She’s doing so well, it’s been three years.” Well dang! I had only been married for 7 years, and my daughter was not yet five years old!
I was a mess. But I began to look at it differently. Ten people out of 100 survived. I was young, I was healthy, and I was going to beat this. Lots of people started praying for me, even people I had never met and people of other faiths. It did my heart good to think of a synagogue nearby who had been praying for this protestant chick who didn’t know them. It still makes me laugh.
Prayer, great work by my oncologist, Dr. Samuel Bobrow, and my own stubbornness has brought me here. . . 14 years after that first Stage IV bombshell.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with more metastasis, and am now in treatment for that. I’ve finished 9 months of Abraxane and am waiting to try new drugs as that didn’t have the lasting results I needed.
I started my blog, Long Time Living , in order to give other Stage IV survivors hope and my earlier posts are worth taking a look at. Hope is important….who would have thought that I would be here 14 years after such a diagnosis? I still don’t know of anyone else who has been “out” that long…even if for the last year I have been in the trenches again.
I think there are two saying which come to mind and I didn’t know about them until this go-around… One is from A. A. Milne in Winnie the Pooh: “Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
The other is attributed to John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway… .” For those of us who are facing the recurrence, I think this is apropos, and then for those of us who are not, it still works.
For all its twists and turns, this cancer roller coaster has been quite a ride … and yet, like a roller coaster, as scary as some parts are, there is also exhilaration and wonder, and a rush. None of us know what is in store for us. It is our job to do the best we can and enjoy it as much as possible, no matter how scared we may be.