Kathy: How I Deal with the Fear of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Kathy: How I Deal with the Fear of Metastatic Breast Cancer

My name is Kathy and I have been metastatic for 9 1/2 years. I have been one of the very fortunate women who had a miraculous response after taking Taxol and Herceptin for several years. I have been "NED" (no evidence of disease) for several years and have been off all medication for two years.

Several weeks ago, I had a swelling in the middle of my breasts. The swelling was soft and initially I didn't think too much about it. But after several days, when it didn't go away and I kept feeling it, I realized the middle part of it was hard. I panicked.

I called my oncologist, who recommended that I see my surgeon. I hadn't had contact with my surgeon for eight years, and now he is affiliated with a different cancer center from where I am being treated. I managed to make an appointment with a new surgeon affiliated with the cancer center where I am currently being treated. He did a biopsy, which turned out negative. But because there is a growth, a Pet Scan was taken. Thankfully, the results were normal, but it raised some concern.

What I've learned from this experience is that fear can return so easily when these situations occur. But how I handle the fear now is different. Now, I take action; I question my options and push for or request what I need. I try to keep a positive outlook.

I do rehearse in my mind how I would deal with bad news. This method of rehearsing the bad news prepares me and keeps me sane.

I talk to myself the way I would talk with a caller on the SHARE Helpline. I realize and acknowledge the fear and assure myself that no matter what the results are, I will be able to handle it with some dignity. Working on the Helpline has been tremendously rewarding and a growing experience.