Community Member Spotlight: Rachelle
Last updated: December 2021
We are highlighting people in the metastatic cancer community. We talked to Rachelle who shares her personal story and how reading other people’s stories on Advancedbreastcancer.net and how online support has helped her tremendously through this experience.
MBC diagnosis story
How and when were you diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on November 19, 2019. About 3 years before I was diagnosed, I felt a knot in my chest. At first, I thought I may have pulled a muscle. As time went on, that "knot" became larger and larger, 10cm, to be exact.
What treatments did you have following your diagnosis? How did the treatments and side effects impact your life?
After my initial CT scan, my oncologist found a very large mass in my uterus. Thankfully it was only a very large fibroid. Since he wanted me to get that taken care of first, he had me to start Tamoxifen. I was told that Tamoxifen has a small risk of deep vein thrombosis. I was advised to stay active. I used to work as a certified nurse aid for over 20 years, so I put my skills to work and wore compression socks. January 2020 I had a total hysterectomy and a fibroid the size of an 18-week pregnancy was removed. Recovered for a month before contacting my oncologist again. My oncologist started me on 125mg of Ibrance and 500mg of fulvestrant. The pharmacy pamphlet on the Ibrance side effects were a bit overwhelming but I was thankful that I only experienced a few. I had low white cell count, low red blood cell, canker sores, and occasional tiredness. February 21, 2021, will be a year that I have been on Ibrance and I currently take 75mg. The canker sores are controlled quite well with peridex and my WBC and RBC is closely monitored each month. I really like this current treatment. I never did chemo so I definitely feel for those who have. I didn't lose my hair and I don't look like I went through the ringer. I can still drive, do everyday house chores and not be tired. Best of all, my cancer has responded very well. It has shrunk from 10cm to 4cm.
What is your favorite part about AdvancedBreastCancer.net? How has online support helped you?
My favorite part about AdvancedBreastCancer.net is meeting others who are going through the same as me. Before I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, I always had the impression that people who had cancer all went through the same thing. Having chemo, losing their hair, and being very sick. AdvancedBreastCancer.net and my oncologist have taught me that people are living so much longer and better with advanced breast cancer.
Online support has helped me tremendously. It has helped me guide my family to the right answers. Now they don't ask when I'll be done with treatment or if I'll go into remission.
What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer?
If you're reading this and you're newly diagnosed, I want you to know it's going to be ok. Hearing you have metastatic breast cancer is scary, I know. I understand how expensive cancer care can become. I want you to know, there is help out there for that. When I started treatment, I didn't have health insurance, but thanks to the health department and the community clinic in my area, I was able to utilize the breast and cervical cancer screening program.
Anything else you would like to add?
Gods got this!
Have you been successful in getting financial assistance to help with your medical costs?