How did you first find out you had cancer?
When you hear stage four, you automatically think it’s a death sentence. My mother lost her battle with breast cancer in 2003, so I was terrified when I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself in 2008.
How did you react when you heard the news?
I couldn’t face that I might not be here for my sons or my husband. I couldn’t even tell my sons, I left that up to my husband. But I knew I had to fight for my life.
What course of treatment were you prescribed?
At first, I had a double mastectomy and that’s when they found the cancer had spread to my liver. I was on chemotherapy for several months to shrink the tumor in my breast, but it was only keeping the one on my liver from growing. When it came time to treat the metastatic cancer, I really had limited options. Chemotherapy was something I wanted to avoid again. It makes you so tired, you can’t even describe it. I only briefly considered a liver re-sectioning surgery to cut out the affected tissue, but the procedure is very invasive and I began looking for other options.
I found CyberKnife Centers of Tampa Bay by doing research online. The technology targets the tumor but protects the surrounding healthy tissue from radiation. The best part was I could get treated in just three sessions with little to no side effects. It was really the easiest decision I’ve ever made in my cancer treatment. I opted for this treatment for my liver, and again when the cancer appeared on my spine.
What most surprised you about your treatment?
After my first CyberKnife treatment, I actually went shopping. It was completely different from my chemotherapy sessions where I’d sit for hours at a time and become exhausted afterwards. In comparison, the CyberKnife sessions were just 45 minutes.
What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
Cancer is a chronic disease but it can be managed. You just have to fight it. I tell everyone to do research so you can understand your disease and your treatment options. That’s the most important step.
How long have you been cancer free?
The cancer in my spine was found in 2010. Today, other than having to schedule my Herceptin treatments (the maintenance chemotherapy that keeps my cancer from returning), I can live my life however I want. My latest scans show no evidence of disease; the tumor on my liver can’t be seen anymore.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Everything in your life changes. When you try to equate things to cancer, there’s just no comparison. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. The only thing you can do is live for today.
If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
Celebrate every single holiday, birthday or goal achieved and be grateful to be able to see each one.
Patsy Evans of Bradenton, Florida takes nothing for granted anymore. The 50-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Patsy Evans knew she had a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Just years before her own diagnosis, her mother lost her battle with the disease.”Whenyou hear stage four, you automatically think it’s a death sentence,” Evans says. “I watched my mother lose her battle to cancer in 2003. When it came to telling my sons, I couldn’t. My husband had to.” There’s a one in eight chance a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That chance doubles if her mother has been diagnosed.
More from GEM: