I will never be cancer-free

When I was 34 years old, I received a life sentence. I learned I had metastatic breast cancer (MBC). My world was rocked. From outward appearances, one would never know the battle I face daily. I choose to be public with my cancer because I, along with so many others, never thought it would happen to me. There was absolutely no history of breast cancer in my family; I was otherwise healthy. I also had access to the best healthcare. Even so, I am one of the 154,000 living with MBC. Over the past 9 years, I have had to constantly adapt to new normals as the cancer spread to my liver, lymph nodes, lungs, and brain. I juggle and sometimes struggle, to balance a full-time job, substantial volunteer commitments, an active lifestyle and a happy marriage with the treatments required to keep my cancer stable. I will never be cancer-free. For me, good news comes when I hear that my tumors haven’t grown between scans. As I write, I am awaiting the results of a brain MRI with the hope that simple scar tissue from prior rounds of brain radiation is not changing. Stability, a state of purgatory, is not acceptable. We have to do more and we have to do it now. To know that with all that is good and well in my life, there will be a day when the current treatments are no longer effective and that is frightening. I am alive today because of the substantial advances in treatment options, but the focus on continued research can never be forgotten. I am so hopeful when I see the growing focus on MBC with Susan G. Komen Florida. They have changed the face of breast cancer and saved millions of lives. I have faith that if we continue to invest in research we will understand how my body betrayed me and how the tumor genetics can be reset so my cancer fades away. Please, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but all year, do what you can to help others like me.

-Kirsten Stanley