Short term goals keep me going

Maura – My life after 30 seemed to blossom. Being a former comic, I owned my own nail salon near Boston for 8 years. My husband, kids and I traded in a fabulous life for an even better one by moving to Las Vegas in 2004. As part of getting involved in the community, I enrolled my daughter in martial arts. After the birth of my third child, I joined her.

I was 38 years old, working towards my black belt in December of 2007 when I got the shocking diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer, stage IIB. I immediately had aggressive chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy, reconstruction, lymph node removal, and 6 weeks of radiation. I thought that I was familiar with breast cancer since I met so many women in the salon who either had it or had been affected by it, but I soon realized I knew nothing, especially about Triple Negative.

When my surgeon looked me in the eye and said that we had gotten it all, I absolutely believed him. I don’t regret that for a second. For almost a year I was only looking forward, deciding what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I went back to the studio to train, and with my kids at my side; in February 2009 I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Ten months later during a routine chest x-ray metastasis was found. I was absolutely shocked; I honestly didn’t think it would come back. I said, “we can beat this.” It was very hard for my oncologist to tell me that isn’t how things are anymore. The statistics were shocking, especially since I wasn’t able to get on a clinical trial.

The aggressive chemotherapy really took its toll, and after four months I had stabilized and begged my doctor for a break. I was too weak to do anything. When tumors lit up in my lungs again I was able to do radiation using the Cyber Knife. What a difference! I was back in the studio with all 3 of my kids, slowly gaining strength.  Short term goals kept me going.

That break I begged for has now turned into 5 years. It has been 5 years since I had any evidence of disease. I went on to receive my second degree, and more recently, my third degree in Tae Kwon Do. More importantly, I am celebrating my 20 year wedding anniversary in September, and my kids are now ages 16, 12 and 9. I am still considered Stage IV metastatic and always will be, but I try to stay as healthy as I can for what may come next.