Community Shares: What I Took For Granted Before My Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosis
A cancer diagnosis will always change a person’s outlook on life. For one, it will likely make someone grateful for so much of what they enjoyed prior to the diagnosis.
It’s common for those living with metastatic breast cancer to miss their life before cancer. To hear more from you about this topic, we started a conversation on AdvancedBreastCancer.net, asking what the one thing is that you took for granted before your diagnosis.
More than 50 of you shared or reacted. Here’s what you had to say.
Physical limitations with MBC
Quite a few mentioned the toll that breast cancer takes on your whole body. Whether you are trying chemo or radiation or not, you may be feeling fatigued. Fatigue is also a symptom of late-stage cancers. The bad news is that there is no medicine to take to get your energy back. Your body is recovering, and this may mean taking it easy more often than you would like.
“Walking and dancing.”
Health changes with MBC
Fatigue. Nausea. Inability to focus. Cancer takes a drastic toll on the body, and so, too, do chemo and radiation therapies. Weight changes and pain in muscles can be side effects as well. The cancer diagnosis is what it is, but it’s so much more to take on when contending with the added mental and physical challenges that can come with treatments. Given all the added stressors, it’s not surprising that you greatly miss your body and how you felt before this journey began.
“My health, obviously. My new normal is that I am limited in what I can do physically and mentally.”
“My incredibly strong fit body. Now I’m a weak person.”
MBC and mental health
With these diagnoses, it’s natural to worry. Sometimes cancer can feel like you’re simply living in between doctor visits and test results. Just the word ‘test’ is enough to send us on edge. The good news is that if you are able to catch yourself worrying, you can also remind yourself that you have a choice. You can stay stuck in worry, or you can remind yourself that today, right now in this moment, you have everything you need.
“Freedom from worry.”
“Not having an inner dialogue like, ‘I wonder if this was my last summer, birthday, Christmas, kid’s birthdays, etc.’”
Stage 4 breast cancer impact on independence
An advanced or metastatic breast cancer diagnosis can leave you feeling drained and unable to enjoy living a spur-of-the-moment lifestyle. You might be tied to hormone therapy or HER2-targeted therapy appointments. You may also be committed to chemo or radiation appointments, which leave you with low energy. It’s true that your life now won’t look as it did. But, you can still have a lot of life left—simply a life that looks different.
“Being able to do what I want to do without always being tired!”
Life before MBC
When all is said and done, what so many of you miss so much aren’t the holidays or vacations. What so many of you yearn for is to go back to normal. A few of you mentioned a new appreciation for what housework looked like before because even that was a breeze compared to how much time chores take now. There is so much to get used to and accept with a diagnosis of advanced or metastatic breast cancer—including the fact that you are now contending with a new normal.
“Being able to clean my house in just a few hours instead of a week because now I have to take so many breakdowns.”
“An ordinary day...”
Sexual side effects of MBC
Libido commonly decreases following chemo treatments. But even aside from cancer treatments, the pain from metastases can also make sex uncomfortable. Many women with metastatic breast cancer find that their desire for sex drops. For some, the answer lies in finding other ways to be intimate and have pleasure other than sex—such as focusing on touching, kissing, cuddling or massage.
“Hot yoga, hot sex.”
“My sex life.”
What about you? Comment below what you took for granted prior to your diagnosis. Thank you to everyone who shared about her experience with breast cancer. We appreciate your honesty, and we hope that readers find connection and support in your words.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?