Community Member Spotlight: Donna Nelson
Last updated: March 2023
We sat down with one of our community members, Donna Nelson, and she shared how she is moving forward with life after her ER+ MBC diagnosis. Read her story.
Initial breast cancer diagnosis
I was initially diagnosed on November 2, 2007, with stage 3a cancer of the left breast. They performed a lumpectomy and removed about twenty-two lymph nodes. I went through sixteen chemo sessions and thirty-three radiation treatments. And I thought, “great…I am done.”
Fast forward ten years and four months later. I went for my twice-yearly checkup in March of 2018. My nurse practitioner asked me how I was feeling. I answered, “Honestly, Jen, I feel kind of crummy. I’m tired; my neck hurts, my running is off (I was a runner), just not feeling like myself.” I was never a complainer, so she took my complaints very seriously. She ordered an MRI of my brain and a bone scan. I thought, “Oh great…me and my big mouth; now I have to do this.”
The results are in...MBC
So, I got both tests done. The MRI was fine. The bone scan, however, showed some hits. She called to tell me and said they would be ordering a CAT scan now. "OK," I thought. I’m sure this is nothing. She called back in about 10 minutes and said that she had a radiation oncologist look at my bone scan, and he thought it best who skip the CAT and go right to the PET. Oh…ok. Next week I had the PET scan. The day after, March 23, 2018, she called me. It was in my ribs, hip, spine, and liver. I have estrogen-positive stage IV mets. It was a recurrence.
Finding the right support when newly diagnosed with MBC
What information/support was most helpful for you when you were newly diagnosed?
Honestly? My doctor and her team. They jumped right into action with me. I got my diagnosis on a Friday, and on Monday, I was on the table getting a liver biopsy. It was amazing how fast everything moved. They explained everything to me. But I have to say that the very first thing they did was calm me down. They reassured me I was not going anywhere fast. That there was an arsenal of treatments for me. And they have since held my hand every step of the way.
Support for MBC
What’s your favorite part about AdvancedBreastCancer.net? How has online support helped you?
I have been following AdvancedBreastCancer.net now for quite a while. I love knowing that there is this support that I can look to. I read the stories of the other ladies and it brings comfort knowing I am not alone, yet sadness at the same time that they are going through this. I have learned thanks to this site, that it’s OK to say "no" to some things. That it’s OK to lie on the couch all day and not feel guilty. This site has brought me much comfort.
Living with MBC
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?
- I would tell them; people will come out of the woodwork to tell you how you can “beat this.” From alkaline water to dog’s fleas and tick medication, to a totally vegan diet, drinking cider vinegar, no sugar, etc., etc., etc. Do not listen. I would say, "thank you so much; I will look into that." Listen to your doctor!
- Find a doctor that you are comfortable with. That will listen to you and get back to you with your concerns. Find a doctor that will make you feel like a person, and not a number.
- Trust in God. Have faith that no matter what He will see you through this.
- And lean on your family and friends. They love you and want to help because trust me, they feel helpless.
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.