Some months ago, I posted an article written by a lady who was living with metastasized breast cancer.
In Living in Victory: When Cancer Seems Out of Control, Elizabeth Jolley offered 10 tips on how to cope with that nightmare diagnosis and treatment.
Today, I’m honoured to be able to share with you her testimony of how she discovered the cancer and what transpired.
December 24, 2011, I awoke to a red rash and mild swelling in my right breast. It had only been a few months since a mammogram, I checked for lumps regularly, so I assumed it was maybe a reaction to soap, or that I needed to replace some bras as maybe they had shrunk and were irritating my breast.
A few days later, I saw my doctor for a routine checkup and asked her about the mysterious rash that was still there. She put me on antibiotics, but insisted I return the next week. When I went back, expecting stronger antibiotics, I was sent for an ultrasound.
While everybody else was enjoying the first day back at school after vacation, I was getting a breast biopsy. Two days later my doctor called me at school to tell me I had breast cancer and she suspected it was Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
Thus began my rollercoaster ride with IBC stage 3B*. A year later, immediately after finishing treatment, I learned it had metastasized to stage 4*. I found that out just before the birth of my first grandchild and just before my birthday.
God is good. I am still here.
I now have two grandchildren. I saw my youngest child graduate from college.
I gave up teaching music in the public school because of fatigue and other side effects of past and current treatments, and I now volunteer a half day a week at a Christian school as their music teacher.
It’s not the life I planned, and I don’t know how long I’ll be here. But I didn’t expect to make it this far when the cancer first metastasized.
I am blessed.
Shirley: A few days ago, I received this message on Facebook:
Shirley, I wanted to share with you that my last PET scan was so good that the oncologist actually used the word REMISSION! I do have to stay in treatment, plus keep getting regular tests and scans, but it still feels like a wonderful gift. Praise God!
IBC Stage IIIB describes invasive breast cancer in which:
- the tumor may be any size and has spread to the chest wall and/or skin of the breast and caused swelling or an ulcer AND
- may have spread to up to 9 axillary lymph nodes OR
- may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone
- IBC Stage 4 is invasive breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs of the body.
Thank you again Elizabeth for sharing your experience with us. For someone facing the same terrifying diagnosis as you did, this can be so heartening. It is certainly an encouragement to live every day you have to the full.
If you are going through the valley of cancer right now, I do urge you to read Elizabeth’s 10 tips for coping.
How did you deal with it? Or is someone you love facing such a situation. Take heart from this article, and as you read it and Elizabeth’s other article, ask yourself the question. What is it that helps Elizabeth live her life day to day without falling apart?