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Nathalie is a mom and wife who is living with mBC. She helped start an inclusive peer support group called Breast Cancer Support Saskatoon, which is the only support group of its kind in the city right now.

This is Nathalie’s story.

Diagnosis: I was diagnosed in 2008 with locally advanced breast cancer at the age of 29. When I was 24, I found out that I had the BRCA1 genetic mutation. Having this mutation means that I was considered at high risk for developing breast cancer, so I was being followed at a high-risk clinic and undergoing annual mammograms. In 2007, I couldn't get my annual mammogram because I was pregnant. My doctor and I noticed a lump in my breast during my pregnancy and decided to follow up on it after the birth of my baby. By the time I went in for the follow-up, the breast cancer was already locally advanced. It was very difficult to go through all of the tests (mammogram, ultrasound, lymph aspiration, biopsy, MRI, bone scan) with a newborn in tow and the nurses wishing you luck as you head out the door. I had to wean my son over the weekend because some of the scans required radioactive isotopes. I underwent chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy and radiation treatments. At this point, I was deemed to be in remission.

In 2011, I tripped and fell on my backside. Shortly afterwards I noticed a lump and didn’t think much of it since it wasn't painful. My husband said, ‘you’ve got a history with lumps, you need to go in.’ I went for an ultrasound, MRI and biopsy. Waiting for the biopsy results was awful. I knew that I likely had cancer again but wasn't sure if it was a recurrence or a new cancer. And if it was a recurrence, how widespread would it be? It turned out to be a recurrence of my breast cancer. The doctors told me that it was a strange presentation because it's rare for breast cancer to spread to the buttock area and the cancer wasn’t in any of my organs, just the fatty tissue. The treatment regime was similar to my first diagnosis; chemo, surgery and radiation. At this point, my cancer was metastatic, so there was no remission, but I was considered NED (No Evidence of Disease).

In 2013, through a routine scan, a lung recurrence was found. Luckily, due to its location, it was removed surgically and followed up with chemo. I was again considered NED. It might sound strange, but I’ve been really fortunate with each recurrence since it’s only been one lesion each time, and the doctors have always been able to remove them surgically.

Living with mBC: Living with mBC means living from scan to scan. You always breathe easier when your scan is stable, and you can live a little bit more freely until the scan that shows progression. I may be back to living life fully now, but there’s always that thought: ‘where is it going to crop up next and how widespread will it be?’

In the meantime, I keep living. I work full time, I run from drop-offs to pick-ups for my son’s activities, I volunteer, I spend time with friends and family, I travel. Then comes scan time and uncertainty and everything kind of slows down. That’s when I really evaluate what is important, what my priorities truly are and what I want to spend my time doing. Some ladies and I recently started an inclusive peer support group called Breast Cancer Support Saskatoon and it’s the only support group like it in our city right now. I find a lot of value in that, and it provides me with the knowledge that I’m making a difference.

Here’s what I’d like to say about mBC: Living with mBC requires getting comfortable living with uncertainty but maintaining hope. It’s about finding balance. Balance between hope and realistic expectations. Balance between quality and quantity of life.
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