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Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer


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(Susan Stockbridge) I'm Susan Stockbridge, and I've had breast cancer for 12 and a half years. I've been living with metastatic breast cancer for six years.

Symptoms of breast cancer

I had one symptom, and that was a very small lump. It was about the size of a bean, and I went to my GP, and he sent me straight on… well, he referred me on to a clinic that took about three weeks to get to see the people in the clinic. Then I had a mammogram and a biopsy, and cancer was confirmed.

Breast cancer diagnosis

When I was first diagnosed, I felt really sad and shocked by it, because although we always know it’s a possibility, and so many people get breast cancer, you never really think that's going to happen to yourself. I had, at the time, my two sons were 11 and 13, and I wanted to see them grow up. I wanted to be with them. I wanted to live, like we all do, and maybe I wouldn't now.

Living with breast cancer

I think nowadays everybody’s got a lot going on in their lives and I’m no different from anybody else. So, I had a job. I had a family, children, parents, and a husband. You have to balance your whole life with that. You can’t step off and just say, well, no, I’ve got the breast cancer hat on now.

Advice I’d give to other people, I think a person should stay positive after they’ve had a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. I’ve had a lot of different drugs. Each drug has worked for a while, some for over a year, some for over three months but add them together and I’m still here six years later.

I try to live for today and plan for tomorrow and I get on with my life. There are worse things in the world than having cancer.

In my free time – which actually is all my time, to be honest, because I’m not working anymore – I enjoy being outside. I’m an outdoor girl. I like hiking. I like cross-country skiing. The last six years, that’s what I’ve been doing as much as I can, I enjoy gardening as well, though my husband does all the heavy work on that; in fact, I would say 90%, really. I enjoy the garden. I think my main interests really are outdoor walking and hiking.

It has meant a huge amount to me to have this additional six years. I’ve been fortunate in that my reactions to the drugs haven’t been as bad as other people’s are. So, I’ve been able to do things and enjoy life, but what’s been important to me is that my sons were 11 and 13 when I was first diagnosed 12 years ago. Now, they’re 24 and 26. They’ve grown up. They’ve moved on to their own lives and they’re not dependent on me anymore. That means a huge amount. Also, I’ve had time to do things with my husband just... and enjoy ourselves. I have got a 60th birthday coming up and it’s my nephew’s wedding in the summer. Most importantly of all, my son is going to return from Afghanistan in April and, you know, I want to be here. I want to be able to enjoy more time with my husband. He has just retired. We want to be able to go out and climb a few more mountains.

 

10074 April 2012

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