My name is Denise Neish, and I am living with Stage 4, or metastatic, breast cancer. I am a survivor, but my story is ongoing. Since April 2011, when I was first diagnosed, I have been navigating this new phase of my life. For the first several months I was completely overwhelmed at the frightening prognosis I was given.
Usually those with metastatic breast cancer are told that they are “incurable”. But that is not accurate for everyone. I do hope to be cured of this cancer someday, but for now, I have come to a necessary arrangement with my cancer. It can stay as long as it doesn’t slow me down!
The cancer spread to my bones, but has not caused me pain. After my first year of intense chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, I was in a beautiful remission for two years. I became quite hopeful that I was one of the lucky few who were cured. But my remission did not last. A small spot on my biannual PET/CT scan, followed by a biopsy, showed a recurrence in my right iliac.
I have accepted that I may never be rid of the cancer completely, but I remain hopeful that a cure is found in my lifetime. I think it’s possible. Most likely it’s something I need to learn to live with, and treat as sort of a “chronic” condition. I’m tired of being told that I will never “get better”. I don’t need to get better. If I stay as I am, I feel great! I’m able to take care of my four small children, run, and live a happy life with my husband and wonderful family and friends.
I hope to be back to NED (no evidence of disease) soon, but I will always need to take good care of myself physically, be on some sort of treatment, and most importantly, take care of myself spiritually and mentally. I created this site to offer hope, courage, and whatever wisdom I have gained, from my battle with cancer. Everyone’s physical treatment plan is personal and unique, but we all share similar fears and concerns when we are living with cancer. I have gained so much from reading the insights and stories of other women facing this diagnosis, and I hope my story, thoughts, and perspectives will benefit someone else. I plan to live a happy and purposeful life, and I hope to do that until I am old.
Please feel free to contact me if you are battling breast cancer at any stage. I will not tell you how to be treated, and I don’t credit myself, or anything I did, to my survival. I do, however, have some insights on dealing with this overwhelming diagnosis you have received, and would love to offer hope, encouragement, and share some friendship and thoughts with you. Mostly I want you to know you are not alone!