In Loving
Memory of Sandi

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Sandi advocated for herself to get checked when she felt something wasn’t right. After diagnosis, she focused on living her life one day at a time and readjusting her goals.

This is Sandi’s story.

Diagnosis: It started in November of 2015. I was at work and I had a bit of a pain in my breast. I noticed it wasn’t going away, so I paid close attention to it. That night, at home, I felt something there that I didn’t think was right. I asked my husband to check and he agreed there was something there. It was a Friday night so I couldn’t do anything about it, and I worried about it the whole weekend… We researched it on the Web, which probably wasn’t the best idea, and decided that it was just a cyst or something.

On Monday, I made an appointment with my doctor. She found there was definitely a lump and told me to make an appointment for a mammogram, which I did, but it was going to be almost two weeks before I could get in. I wasn’t sure what to do. Then, out of the blue, my doctor called me personally to make sure I had made the appointment. I thought it was great that she was checking up on me, but it also worried me a little bit. She suggested I try a different place and they were able to get me in the next day. I had a mammogram and an ultrasound and the radiologist confirmed it was a solid mass and said I should have a biopsy done. We did it right there and then, but I had to wait eight days for the results, which was just awful. Waiting was the absolute worst part. Your mind goes to dark places, but we never said the worst out loud. We kept positive.

The day of my diagnosis, my doctor didn’t mince words. She told me it was breast cancer and that she was already trying to get me in to see a surgeon. It all happened very quickly after that. I learned it was an invasive ductal carcinoma, probably stage two. I had a single mastectomy in early January 2016. Recovery took six weeks and then I met with my oncologist to decide on treatment. I had to do some tests beforehand to get a baseline… and that’s when they found the cancer had already spread to my liver. It was metastatic. That’s when everything changed. I was only 34.

Living with mBC: Like most people, you hear about breast cancer and it’s covered in a layer of pink, and you think there are so many survivors – but I didn’t know much about metastatic breast cancer. There was cancer in my family, but there was never a conversation, or even a proper knowledge of what ‘metastatic’ meant. I remember hearing people saying things like, ‘This person has cancer here, here and here,’ but not understanding that it meant the same cancer had spread from one part of the body to another, rather than that person having various forms of cancer.

People don’t always understand what I’m going through. I hear a lot of platitudes: you’re strong, you’ll beat this, be positive. I know people have the best intentions and I don’t fault them for it. I appreciate people have no idea what to say. But I don’t need platitudes. I need people to be there; to listen when I need to vent, rather than offering solutions I’m not looking for. I want to be heard and I want to feel what I need to feel. People send me “cures” and natural remedies and it’s really frustrating because you want them to understand. Just try to put yourself in my shoes. There is no cure.

Our lives have completely changed. Our goals have changed. I’m still working now but I’m not worried about my career or anything like that, it’s working to have a job and to feel normal. I don’t want mBC to completely overshadow every aspect of my life. You start thinking about all the things you want to accomplish. We travel whenever we can, whenever there’s a break in treatment, and I spend more time with the people I love. I’m living each day as it comes.
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