Kelly S.

KellyShanahan_1-e1475162743617-575x375.jpg

"Now that my time is limited, I appreciate it more."know how much longer I will be able to do them!"

In 2008, at age 47, I was diagnosed with stage IIB invasive ductal cancer of the right breast. A busy ob-gyn, I chose a bilateral mastectomy because I didn’t have time to deal with radiation. I needed to take care of my 9 year old daughter and my patients. A single positive lymph node bought me 16 weeks of chemo — AC followed by taxol, but I worked through it all because I didn’t have time to be sick. After final reconstruction, I rarely thought about breast cancer, because I didn’t have time to deal with it.

Five years later, while walking up the stairs, I sneezed and immediately had searing back pain. “A pulled muscle”, I thought. When it didn’t improve, I figured I might have herniated a disc, but I was busy, I had surgery to do and a 15-year old to drive to school and rehearsals. I didn’t have time for back pain, so I rubbed on the icy-hot and did hysterectomies and drove teenagers to Ashland, Oregon for a school field trip.

Ironically, I sublet my office to an oncologist one day a week; he saw me limping and reminded me that I had had cancer and really should have scans. But I was busy, I couldn’t reschedule patients, so the first free time I had was about 6 weeks later, on my birthday. I figured I’d get the MRI, and PET scan too since I was taking the day off, then go home and go out to dinner with my family.

I had mets in virtually every bone in my body. That back pain? A vertebral compression fracture because the entire bone was one big met. Oh, and a met in my femur was about to erode through the bone. Six days later, a titanium rod was inserted into my left femur and 10 days after that I started chemo. Fourteen months of IV chemo and 20 months of aromasin later, I’m coming up on my three year “metaversary”.

Now that my time is limited, I appreciate it more. I may have an appointment, but when the sun is sparkling on the lake, I have time to pull over to take a picture or just soak in the view.

My now 17 year old college freshman daughter wants me to watch Dr. Who with her when she’s home on break? Move over and share that blanket sweetie because spending time with you is the most important thing on my calendar.

Hubby wants to go out on the boat and there are three loads of laundry to do? No problem, those dirty towels aren’t going anywhere.

We have to opportunity to travel but it costs almost as much as a semester of college? Pull out the passports and take some money from the 401k, because odds are I won’t make it to retirement age anyway.