Stephanie's Story

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STEPHANIE: Hi, I'm Stephanie.

Text on screen: Stephanie

Started off actually doing, pediatric intensive care. I've done that for like 10 to 12 years. I've also done peds transport, ground and air. I've done adult critical care as well. I've done ER, so basically, it's just a critical care by ground until the last 14 years. I actually do hospice nursing.

So I was a little late getting the mammogram done. I got it done and that's when they showed, that I had, you know, a mass in my right breast. And I went back in for an ultrasound and a biopsy.

I get this call in the midst of my afternoon nap. I answer it and she identifies herself and says, “Stephanie, I have the results of your biopsy.” And I said, “Okay.” And she said, “I'm sorry to tell you, you have cancer.”

I probably have run the whole gambit of emotions internally, not externally. I have felt alone. I've felt isolated. I have felt not loved. I have felt overwhelmed. I have had feelings of harming myself.

Those are things that you think with breast cancer you don't have all those emotions. And I can honestly tell you that that gambit of emotions can all occur in a short period of time. You know, you can be joyful one minute and feel like that you're gonna fall off the end of the earth and you don't want to get up. You don't want to do anything. I try not to stay there. I try really hard not to stay there because I know that it's easy to fall into that trap of being so down on yourself. And if I'm down on myself, I know other people are watching. So, you know, I can't stay there.

Honestly, I read, I shop. And when I say “shop,” it's not like I used to shop, but I can still shop.

Text on screen: Kirby is also diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer

And I, I talk to other people that I can talk to, be myself. They understand the emotions. And usually it's somebody else who has metastatic breast cancer because I don't have to pretend, I don't have to put on that happy face. I don't have to be strong for them, you know. So I can talk to them, words of encouragement they give or provide. Sometimes a hug, you know, goes a long way for me now more so than a hug did 10 years ago.

I do this not only to tell my story because we all have a story, we all have a story and it's different. And it means different things to different people. But I want to tell my story because I'm an older woman, I am a black female and the rate of death with women with breast cancer that are African American, 40% higher. Why, you know?

And I live in a rural community now. So you know, those things alone make me want to do the best that I can for as long as I can to let people know that they aren't by themselves. That I'm a, I'm an open book. You can ask me anything about anything and I'll, you know, tell you the truth. It may not be pretty, but I'll tell the truth and I'll help you as much as I can.

Don't be alone. Nobody's alone. And I know that's a cliché. You know, you're not alone, but truly you, you aren't. Going through metastatic breast cancer, I don't care if you live so far out in the country where your closest neighbor is a cow, you still aren't alone. There are people around you that will support you, that will love you, that will share things with you.

I was one of those that it was hard to ask for—and it still is sometimes. That's just human nature. You want to be able to do it all yourself. But yeah, just ask for help.

Text on screen: No matter how you feel, you don’t have to feel alone.

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Stephanie shares her story

As a nurse, Stephanie was used to helping other people with their problems, not dealing with or talking to anyone about her own. So when she received a de novo diagnosis of Stage 4 MBC, she had to recalibrate how she approached her life—and learned how good it feels to find a community and open up to others.

Yes, my husband is my biggest supporter, my biggest fan, and he always tries to understand but it wasn’t the same as finding somebody else that looked like me [and] had metastatic breast cancer.”

— Stephanie

Need someone to talk to?

Cancer Support Helpline: 1-888-793-9355

CancerCare’s Hopeline: 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741

Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) Breast Cancer Helpline: 1-888-753-5222

You don't have to do this alone

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