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Community Shares: How Long We've Been Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

If you feel like you do not fully understand metastatic breast cancer, know that you are not alone. It is common for people who do not have the diagnosis to hear the words breast cancer and assume that you will manage this disease for a short time and then be fine.

Those who have received the diagnosis already know this is not true—the fight against metastatic breast cancer is not a short one. You will be managing this disease for the rest of your life.

However, many of you may have questions about how long that will be.

To find out what it looks like to live with metastatic breast cancer, we reached out on the AdvancedBreastCancer.net Facebook page, asking you to fill in the blank: “I have been managing advanced breast cancer for _____ years.”

More than 200 of you commented. Your answers ranged from 8 months to 30 years. Here’s what you had to say.

Living with MBC for more than a year

In the beginning, just after learning of your diagnosis and receiving initial treatment, it is incredibly common to count the months. In fact, many in the community never stop counting. It is also not unusual that the first year is the biggest deal and the largest hurdle to cross. Many fear that they will not see another year past diagnosis, but once they do, it seems possible to live to see many more.

“It will be 18 months this week.”

“1 year 3 months.”

“One year, 10 months and 4 days. But who is counting?”

Managing MBC for more than 3 years

No matter where someone is in their journey with metastatic breast cancer, it is natural to hope and pray for more time. Many believe they will be lucky to see one year or two, and every year after that is a gift. However, yes, metastatic breast cancer is incurable, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot live many more years with this disease.

“I have 3.5 years and am praying for many more.”

“I have been living with advanced breast cancer for 4 years and 4 months. I was diagnosed on 9-11-15. This is my own personal 911.”

Living with stage 4 breast cancer for more than 5 years

One of the next major milestones in the fight against metastatic breast cancer is the 5-year mark. While it is certainly one to hope and strive for, it also need not signal anything more than the fact that you have made it 5 years. For many, life with this diagnosis is lived one day a time, whether those days add up to 5, 10, 15 years or longer.

“I have been living with advanced breast cancer for 5 1/2 years.”

“I reached 7 years yesterday!”

“I have been in remission for 8 years.”

Managing MBC for more than 10 years

The biggest fear is that metastatic breast cancer will only allow you to live one, maybe two years beyond the diagnosis. But, for many men and women, this is far from the case. Several of you shared that you are halfway into your second decade with metastatic breast cancer and doing better than you had originally expected.

“For me, it has been 13 going on 14 years.”

“On April 1st, it will be 15 years.”

“I have been living with advanced breast cancer for 15 years.”

“I have been managing advanced breast cancer for 16 years and 6 1/2 months. I was diagnosed June of 2000 with breast cancer, and in July of 2003 with mets to the bones.”

We want to thank everyone in the community for sharing your experiences with metastatic breast cancer. It is our hope that this story encourages men and women to have hope to keep pushing through.

How long have you been managing metastatic breast cancer?

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