In 2008, I had everything going for me: a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the University of Virginia School of Medicine, I had a busy and successful ob-gyn practice in South Lake Tahoe, CA; a precocious 9 year old daughter; and a well used passport from traveling all over the world with my family to attend conferences, with a liberal dose of vacation on the side. When I was diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer in April 2008, I considered it a mere bump in the road; after all, I returned to work two weeks after my bilateral mastectomy and continued to work all through the four months of chemo.
And for five years, breast cancer was an aside, something to put in the past medical history section of forms. Even when I developed sudden back pain, I never thought it could be breast cancer rearing its ugly head – a pulled muscle, a herniated disc maybe, but not what it turned out to be: metastatic breast cancer in virtually every bone in my body, with a fractured vertebrae and an about to break left femur. I was diagnosed on my 53rd birthday.
I have been extremely lucky, for after an unconventional 14 month course of combination IV chemo and zometa, followed by a more conventional aromatase inhibitor, I have remained NEAD – No Evidence of Active Disease -- since April 2014. Neuropathy from the chemo did cost me my career, but I have found a new purpose in advocacy. I am on the board of directors of METAvivor; a member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance and the ABC Global Alliance; a member of Komen’s Advocates in Science, Advocacy Advisory Taskforce, and Metastatic Breast Cancer Advisory Committee; and a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Komen, and METAvivor. I attend as many MBC and general cancer conferences as possible (limited by funds prior to COVID and the ability to sit in front of a computer all day during the pandemic) and share what I learn through social media.
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a doctor, an advocate, a woman LIVING with metastatic breast cancer.
- Nature LoverAttended all 3 of our Summer Nature Series