Battling Breast Cancer the SECOND Time Around
by Lisa Boccard
In 2003, I was diagnosed a second time with breast cancer. But this time, it was metastatic breast cancer. After eleven years of surviving Stage III breast cancer, I found myself once again fighting for my life. This time around is much different than the first time – I will be treated for this disease for the rest of my life.
When I was first told that I had metastatic breast cancer, I assumed this fight would be like my previous one. I was ready to fight this battle, until a doctor said I had five years to live. My life froze in time. All I could think was How could this be? I need more time. There are so many things that I haven’t experienced yet in life. My spirit, faith, hope, and life were crushed by those few words.
Once I realized I would not accept the doctor’s prediction, I was ready to move forward with the fight. When I met my current doctor, she indicated that metastatic breast cancer could be managed by new drugs that are available now, unlike years ago. She explained to me that the cancer could be treated as a chronic disease, meaning I would receive some type of treatment for the rest of my life. This new strategy made sense and seemed more viable to me. Unlike the other option I was given.
A fight is a fight, regardless of how many times you have met your opponent.
Five years have passed since I encountered cancer the second time around. Since 2003, I have had to make many changes in my life that at first seemed impossible, but now I realize how important it was for me to make those changes.
This second round with cancer is not much different from the first time. A fight is a fight, regardless of how many times you have met your opponent. I have learned to nurture myself and have realized that I must put my life first, now more than ever. I am more aware and conscious of how I treat my body. For instance, I eat a healthy diet, I make it a point to exercise by practicing yoga or walking, and I try to maintain a level of peace in my life. If I encounter any form of stress, then the cancer is being fueled. My number one priority is me.
I realize what is important to me and to those in my life. The choices I make in life are ones that fulfill my needs and desires. I make sure that a day doesn’t go by without laughter or joy. Even though I am living with a chronic illness, I am still thankful for every day that I’m here to experience life’s pleasures and secrets.
Cancer has changed my life in ways that I never imagined. My experience with cancer has taught me many life lessons I may not have otherwise learned. It has taught me the dance of life. Every day is a celebration for me. I embrace life with joy, gratitude, and respect. Living with metastatic breast cancer has not stopped me from growing, laughing, and living. Most importantly, it has not stopped me from being me. As I see it, cancer was then, and this is my now.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Lisa Boccard is a breast cancer survivor living in Miami, FL.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2008.