Community Member Spotlight: Kristin Bradford
Last updated: March 2023
We interviewed Kristin Bradford, a community member, who has been diagnosed with stage 4 HER2- breast cancer. She shares her story with us.
How & when were you diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?
In the summer of 2020, my left knee was hurting more than normal after a 9-mile hike. The pain was enough to set up an appointment with my Internist. An x-ray of my knee was ordered, which came back perfectly fine. I could’ve taken the great news and moved on, but something didn’t feel right, and the pain was still there. After another x-ray of the whole leg and pelvis, they found a large spot on my left femur.
On September 8th, I underwent a biopsy, and while I was under anesthesia, the outcome of that biopsy would determine the next course of action. Because the biopsy showed markers for metastatic breast cancer, they put a rod through my femur to protect it and would allow me to undergo treatment like radiation. I woke up from surgery with a rod in my leg and immediately knew it wasn’t an infection, but it was in fact, the very thing I feared ever since being declared “cancer-free” 9 years ago.
What type of breast cancer do you have? Was it recurrence or de novo?
I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer stage 2, ER+, PR+, HER2- when I was 27 years old. Nine years later I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer with active disease found in my femur bone and sternum lymph node.
What information/support was most helpful for you when you were newly diagnosed HER2-?
The amount of fear and unknown can overwhelm someone who is newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I think the most helpful for me was finding support within my community and circle. Even though I was diagnosed with stage breast cancer 2, I knew very little about metastatic breast cancer, stage 4. I learned a great deal from people who are living with this disease. Some for decades even!
What's your favorite part about AdvancedBreastCancer.net? How has online support helped you?
I found google and online information is very limited for metastatic breast cancer. Communities like AdvancedBreastCancer.net provide a space for people who are living and affected by metastatic breast cancer to have a voice and tell their story. I’ve learned so much from that and encourage people to keep sharing their stories and experiences.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?
- Take all the time you need to process your diagnosis. The one thing I did was wait to tell other people until I was ready to have those conversations. You will go through a whirlwind of mixed emotions, but doing whatever you need to do in order to help find peace in your own journey is important.
- The internet is not necessarily your friend when it comes to stage 4. I found much of the research is dated and the statistics can hit you with disappointment and fear. I learned more from others who are living with the disease and from organizations that devote their time and energy to bringing awareness to metastatic breast cancer.
- Do what brings you joy and happiness. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring me the most joy, but I try to focus on what makes me happy. It can be anything from advocacy, meditation, quality of life, traveling, or finding creative outlets. The list goes on and on, but in my days of fear or waiting to hear from a recent scan, I like to be on my own and take walks to watch the sunset at a nearby beach.
Have you been successful in getting financial assistance to help with your medical costs?