Carmela shares her story
After doing well for 5 years after both her initial breast cancer diagnosis and after it returned, Carmela was stunned to hear she had MBC. And after feeling isolated by a lack of insight into her condition, Carmela now takes it upon herself to get the support she needs from family and friends, often coaching them along the way.
It was—and is—hard to talk with my old friends and husband about what I’m experiencing. They don’t want to talk about cancer. I think they just don’t know how to talk about it.”— Carmela
When I was 42, I had my first breast cancer diagnosis.
I had radiation and chemotherapy, and I went on an oral treatment. I was okay for 5 years but then the cancer came back. I had a mastectomy and more chemo, and then I was okay for another 5 years.
Then I found out that I had metastatic breast cancer (MBC). This time it was in my bones.
After that diagnosis, I’d get so sad. I felt isolated, even with my family. I felt like nobody could feel my pain. I had everything that I needed but I felt empty and lonely.
It was—and is—hard to talk with my old friends and husband about what I’m experiencing. They don’t want to talk about cancer. I think they just don’t know how to talk about it.
That’s one thing that I would say to anyone with MBC: Find the right support from your family or your friends. And then help those people talk about cancer with you. Tell them the things they SHOULD say to you and ask you—and the things they should NOT say to you and ask you. I think they’re not necessarily being insensitive; they are just not informed. And maybe you can change that if you speak up.
One thing I’ve found that has really helped lift my spirits is being outside and enjoying nature. I just love to go outside. I love to look at the sunset. It makes me feel so good. Even being out and shopping is like therapy to me.
I love to travel, too. In fact, I have a trip planned for Israel soon! Getting out and seeing the world really takes me out of those sad moments.
Right now, I’m just focused on living as normal a life as possible. I get my chemo, I get my scans, and I go to all my appointments. The chemo makes me tired, but it doesn’t give me many side effects.
Right now, my cancer is stable. I’m happy about it. This gives me hope for the future.
At this point, I’ve been living with MBC for 15 years—I’m still alive!
Need someone to talk to?
Cancer Support Helpline: 1-888-793-9355
CancerCare’s Hopeline: 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)
Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) Breast Cancer Helpline: 1-888-753-5222
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