Saturday, 30 June 2012

The First Eight Months of Living with Kate's Cancer

I have noticed that many of the hits this blog page gets are from searches for information about breast cancer.  I'm not an oncologist, nor am I particular informed about the various types and stages of breast cancer, but I have been by my wife, Kate's, side for the past eight months as she's faced her particular brand of stage IV breast cancer.  So, I am writing this blog post for those who have been diagnosed with, or have a loved one who has, breast cancer and happen to come across my blog.

First a little background:  Kate was diagnosed in October with Stage IV breast cancer, which means the cancer had spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of her body, her liver and bones, to be exact.  A biopsy revealed that her cancer was "triple positive", meaning that the cancer cells had three receptors, one each for:  Her2, progesterone and estrogen.  This is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it makes the cancer very aggressive and on the other it presents more treatment options.  She has been treated since last October.

Okay, that's the background, now the main message of this post is HOPE.  My wife's experience shows that breast cancer, even late stage breast cancer, is not necessarily a death sentence.  Treatments have come a long way since my mother had it in the 1970's (and she lived for another 25 years and her death was unrelated to her breast cancer).  Kate, who was so very sick in the first few months, has come a long way and her oncologist says he's confident that the disease can be managed for decades.  Undoubtedly, cancer is not a cakewalk - there are good days and bad days physically and emotionally for Kate and for me, but if you can get through the hard times, you have good reason to be hopeful.

Every breast cancer patient is different and unfortunately some will not be able to beat the disease, but the state of treatment options today are broad and I am amazed by the resilience of the people I have met.  I don't want to be trite, but if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, please know that all is not lost.  Yes, your life is about to get harder, but know that the hope I am trying to convey is not empty but real.  Hang in there and you and your families can get through this together.  Please.

I also want to encourage women to examine their breasts monthly because the sooner the disease is caught, the better the prognosis usually is and the less impact it will have on your day-to-day life.  Also, if you have a family history of the disease, speak with your doctor about getting regular mammograms.

My wife has been blogging about her experience and her site contains a lot of useful information and links to other blogs and resources for patients.  Please check it out:

Also, I have written some posts about the disease from my perspective:

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