Caitlin

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"I try to keep my head up and keep moving."

Where do I start? I never knew I had metastatic breast cancer.

I know that sounds pretty crazy, as the metastasis was around my lung in my pleural space. I was running, training for a half marathon, and honestly focusing on work and figured my life with cancer was slowly going behind me.

I had a work physical, like I do every year, and they found a strange noise on my EKG. EKG led to echocardiogram, which found fluid around my left lung base. This led to a CT scan of my chest, a Thoracentisis of my lung region and a biopsy confirming I had metastasis to the pleura of my left lung.

That was over 3 years ago. I have been through many medications – Femara, Afinitor & Aromasin, a clinical trial, Xeloda and now Faslodex & Ibrance. I honestly did not think things were rough until a year ago, when  I went in to fix my pleural effusion. For over 2 years, the effusion never went away and I was hoping it was an easy procedure.

I woke up from that surgery with a pleur-x catheter in my left torso. It was upsetting and I felt like my whole life was falling apart. I had a hard time keeping my stuff together. In all honesty, I did not even think I would make it to this point. Having a giant tube in your side could do that to you. That tube put a giant hold on EVERYTHING. I ended up in the hospital due to the unbearable constipation the pain medication put me through. I thought I was going to die, and it felt that way. It was a 3x/week visit from my visiting nurse who would drain the tube of the fluid. It was kind of neat to watch, but to save your stomachs, I will hold off on a picture of it for you. I couldn’t exercise and had to find new hobbies. When all my hobbies were physical, it was hard, but I learned that I love knitting, coloring, painting and spending time with my friends & family.

You know what? Some things made the situation much better. I called the tube Oblina. I made fun of the tubey-wooby to make each day a bit better. I got out of the hospital and swore to NEVER take pain medication again. I was switched to Xeloda and, thank goodness, I had a wonderful response. The fluid was gone and my lung mets was slowly going away. My tube was removed after 3 months. My friends made things better. We went on a road trip to Disney, which helped me realize that, despite the tube, I could have fun and live the best life I could ever imagine. My fiancé proposed to me, which was amazing and still is.

I am off of Xeloda and on Faslodex & Ibrance. I still do not know if it is working, but it can fail just like all the other drugs. I try to keep my head up and keep moving. I do have those dark moments where I cannot find a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, I still cannot believe that I even had mets and it was in my lungs. So I just do what was, and still is, making me happy by lifting weights, running, biking, knitting, coloring, painting, spending time with my friends & family and hiking. It was what made me happy & despite lung mets and it is what always will make me happy.

 

Gary RickeNew Jersey