My Journey with MBC by Cassie Romano

My name is Cassie and I’ve been living with metastatic breast cancer since November 2020.

In January 2020, I went in for a routine mammogram. I felt great and had not been experiencing any symptoms that would lead me to be concerned. There is a history of breast cancer in my family, so I was being proactive and had been getting these tests since I was 38 years old.

The result of this mammogram was different. It showed that there was a spot found in my right breast as well as a spot in a lymph node. I would need a biopsy done, but it was very suspicious for breast cancer.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had after leaving the imaging center that Friday evening. It’s very surreal to walk into a building having a normal, predictable life and walk out two hours later feeling like everything had suddenly changed. I felt numb. In the span of 120 minutes, my ordinary life was gone and, in the weeks, to come, I would be catapulted into an entirely new life. One filled with enormous amounts of unpredictability, fear, and anxiety like I had never experienced before.

After my biopsy results came back, it was confirmed that I indeed had breast cancer. It was Stage 2B at that time. My friends and family all celebrated at the fact that it was caught early. My primary care doctor told me it would be the most difficult year of my life, but it would one day be nothing more than a distant memory. The many positive words from loved ones and doctors made me feel very hopeful.

Following weeks of consultations and testing, I underwent a double mastectomy and lymph node removal. While I recovered in New Jersey, my father who lives in South Dakota, was also diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive lymphoma. So we were both going through treatments at the same time…all while having to be isolated with a worldwide pandemic.

Four months after I completed my last radiation session and I was finally starting to feel like my old self, my life would change once again. A swollen gland in my neck resulted in a scan, then more scans and finally a liver biopsy/resection. These events ultimately led to the discovery that my breast cancer had returned and had spread to my liver. The new diagnosis I was given was Stage IV breast cancer…which was now incurable.

In the last three years, I have had progression to my spine and more rounds of radiation. I am currently on my second line of treatment to slow the spread of this unpredictable disease. I am in a clinical trial which involves taking a chemo pill every morning, bloodwork, and injections every month and scans every three months. Managing the mental and physical side effects of metastatic breast cancer has now become my full-time job.

This is definitely not the life I ever imagined. But it has given me a new perspective and appreciation for living each day with gratitude and appreciation. For the rest of the time I have left, I will continue to spread awareness on the importance of Stage IV breast cancer research and will remain hopeful for a cure.

Cassie Romano

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