In July 2018, I started a new career with the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, working in Human Resources where I had the opportunity to help employees navigate the process of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and a medical leave of absence. As a result of the new work, we decided to downsize and sell our house in Eau Claire and move into a one-bedroom condo in downtown St. Paul.
I noticed my left breast was growing in size and was quite painful. I also noticed a lump in December 2019 and scheduled a mammogram for January 2020 on my birthday. During the mammogram appointment, several scans were done prior to the planned ultrasound. However, it wasn’t until the radiologist suggested that three biopsies be performed, two from the left breast and one from the lymph node on the left near the armpit that I had that sinking feeling in my stomach.
The next day I got the call and they told me I have breast cancer. There was cancer in the breast, on the chest wall, and in the lymph node. Many more tests were needed to determine the extent of cancer. Throughout the process of all the medical imaging scans, liver biopsy and lab work, I started to do some research on www.breastcancer.org and realized that the pain I had been feeling in my abdomen was very likely a liver metastasis.
On January 31, 2020, I received the confirmation that I had stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had spread from the lymph node in the left armpit to the liver. I found out that my cancer is HER2 positive, hormone receptor negative. Genetic testing revealed that the cancer was not genetic.
As a result, I haven’t been working since the end of January.
I hope to return to work sometime in the future, but I am managing the side effects of weekly chemo, and am learning how to cope with my “new normal” of living with cancer as well as the fatigue from chemo. As a result, I am just not able to work at this time.
People have been asking what they can do to offer support. I’ll take prayers!
Please take good care of yourself and your family.
Treatment is weekly chemotherapy for the next two years because I am in the Clinical Trial NRG-BR004 which includes Paclitaxel, Trastuzumab, Pertuzumab with Atezolizumab or Placebo (Taxol, Herceptin, Perjeta, and immunotherapy drug or placebo). I receive Taxol weekly and on days 1 and 22 of each cycle, I receive all four drugs. There will be about 300 people in this clinical trial.