Community Shares: The Pain of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer brings one uncertainty after the next, especially when it comes to pain. Nearly every member of the metastatic breast cancer community experiences the pain differently—and in different parts of the body.
To learn more about your experiences, we reached out on the AdvancedBreastCancer.net Facebook page, and we asked you to tell us: “What does metastatic breast cancer pain feel like?”
We heard responses from 90 people. Here is what you shared.
The pain of metastatic breast cancer
For many of you, the pain of metastatic breast cancer is devastating. It renders you helpless, unable to do anything other than submit and ride it out. The only good news, if you can call it that, is that many of you have shared that the pain is not constant 24/7. But, for anyone who is in physical agony with this diagnosis, know that you are far from alone.
“Sometimes it can stop you in your tracks.”
“I do not wish this pain on my worst enemy.”
“Like your bones are shattering.”
Those of you who have developed bone metastases as a result of your metastatic breast cancer are among those experiencing the roughest pain. Most of you describe the pain as acute, like stabbing. Pain medication helps in some cases, as can bisphosphonate drugs, radiation therapy or surgery.
“Like your bones are shattering. Like you cannot move, run or dance the way your mind wants to.”
“The pain from bone mets is overwhelming and excruciating. It is worse than labor and I had 6 hours of unmedicated labor.”
“Like your bones are throbbing. Shooting pains through the body.”
Breast cancer liver mets
For every member of the community that shared that it was their bones where they felt excruciating pain, another member shared that the pain raged internally—sometimes localized in certain organs, sometimes not. This disease can cause metastases in so many places—and sometimes the uncertainty is also part of what makes this diagnosis such a challenge.
“I had severe pain in my abdomen from liver mets. It stopped hurting after systemic chemo knocked the tumors down to a manageable size.”
“Feels like something is ripping through my insides with a jackhammer and scraping with a chisel.”
“Feels like someone twisting a screw in various parts of my body. It is a constant reminder of my MBC.”
The anxiety and fear of MBC
A few of you spoke about the emotional strain of metastatic breast cancer. The anxiety and fear can leave anyone feeling exhausted. It is only natural to sometimes feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and emotions about the diagnosis. But, as several of you shared, one way to get through is to take it day by day, and in this moment, if it is true for you, to remind yourself that you have everything you need—just for right now.
“Like you cannot breathe because the anxiety and fear choke your throat.”
“Isolation and unrelenting fatigue.”
Pain of breast cancer varies
Quite a few of you have shared that you have not been feeling any pain. Cancer is a disease that is so hard to predict, with so many unseen factors at work. As hard as metastatic breast cancer is, it is a relief to know that many of you out there do not have physical pain in addition to the emotional upheaval of metastatic breast cancer.
“Not everyone has pain. There is no single symptom. MBC is as varied as we are.
“I have had mets in my bones since December 2107, and so far I have experienced no pain. Prayers for all of us!”
“I never had any pain.”
We want to say thank you to everyone who shared their experiences. It is only because you share that we have a community, serving as a safe space for all.
Internal radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation used to treat breast cancer.