KANSAS CITY, MOISIE – I could start with a simple declarative sentence revealing my new diagnosis, but I choose a different way to tell this story. In order for you to truly understand the challenge I face, I must take you back to what I thought was the last chapter in my journey with breast cancer.
One of the happiest days of my life was February 15, 2012, when I finished my last radiation treatment for breast cancer at
Saint Luc Hospital
in Kansas City, Missouri. It was the end of the eight months, which included eight cycles of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and 33 radiotherapy treatments.
My husband Ed and I arrived at the hospital that day with 33 pink balloons representing
the 33 radiotherapy treatments that I had received
. On each balloon, attached a note with the scripture verse Philippians 4:23, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit." We gave nurses and patients balloons, and left others in the locker room of the patients to surprise and encourage the strangers still in treatment.We walked out with the remaining balloons, whispered a prayer, and let go.We watched as they floated to the sky, recognizing that God m 39 has led well through the fight.
I was finally a breast cancer survivor. I said goodbye to breast cancer. I did not know that breast cancer was not over with me.
I always knew that there was a risk of re-offending. I've read stories and interviewed women who have survived two and sometimes three episodes of breast cancer. I did not want it to be my story. I only mentioned the possibility of recurrence once, and only to Ed. I remember very well that we were alone at home in the kitchen and I said, "And if it came back?" I stopped, approached me, grabbed my hands and looked into my eyes. I could feel his love, his compassion and He paused and said, "Then we will start from scratch, and we will fight again, together."
Seven years later, that's what we do.
Diagnosis and discovery
On Friday, February 8, 2019, eight years after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I received the call. The doctor said that the needle biopsy on a small mass that I had felt earlier this week was positive. I have had breast cancer again.
I did not cry. I was seriously stunned. I thought that after seven years of no cancer, the likelihood of a cancer return was rare. I was right: recurrences are rare, but that can and has happened to me.
I was at work when I received the call. I went home and told Ed. C is my hero and he did not flinch.
He said, "Okay, so let's start."
From that moment, Ed was with me at every medical appointment and procedure. He did the same thing in 2011. We strongly believe that we want to turn our challenges into something positive to help others. So we knew right away that we wanted to share our story again, as we did when we first diagnosed breast cancer. So we recorded our thoughts again and took pictures during my procedures.
In this video, Cynthia and Ed Newsome discuss her new diagnosis of cancer.
I have to take a break and share a story that shows how much my husband is faithful and committed to being at every appointment. One day, I discovered at the last minute that
an oncologist and researcher at
University of Kansas Cancer Center
, could meet us. But Ed was too far to get there in time. He sent me a text message: "OH REALLY !!! I should be there with you! "I knew his heart and I wanted him to be there too, so I just called him to help FaceTime." I held the phone and introduced him to Dr. Sharma. and we started the appointment.He even asked questions and Dr. Sharma looked in the phone and replied: I love my husband for so many reasons – his flawless love is in that & # 39; a.
Back to my diagnosis. I soon discovered that the small mass that I had felt was only the tip of the iceberg. I again turned to St. Luke's Hospital, where I had received my treatment in 2011. My surgeon, Dr. John Shook, and my oncologist, Dr. Timothy Pluard, put me on on the way to a quick evaluation of the complete body.
For several days, I had a series of blood tests, MRIs, two PET scans and CT scans. The results revealed two more tumors. One is in the lymph nodes under my right arm and a second, bigger, is under my left breast in the chest wall.
Dr. Pluard told me that I had metastatic breast cancer. We also talk about stage four breast cancer and that means that the cancer has spread from my chest to other parts of my body.
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation
Doctors still treat it as breast cancer even though the tumors are found in other parts of the body. Komen also says that at least 154,000 people in the United States have metastatic breast cancer. And
according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation
(NBCF), metastatic breast cancer can occur in people aged 10 to 15 years after initial diagnosis, even after successful treatment. And when this happens again, it is often forgotten in regular checkups and annual mammograms.
My cancer is
which means that it was not caused by any of the three factors that usually cause breast cancer: the hormones estrogen and progesterone and the breast cancer gene. At present, the cancer is isolated to the three tumors we have discovered. So I'm looking forward to starting my treatment and killing the cancer that wants to kill me.
I am one of those people who faithfully undergo my annual health exams and my mammograms. But Dr. Pluard explained that the mammogram did not detect the tumor located under my left breast and he said that I would not have felt the tumor in my lymph nodes with a self-examination. So, I can only thank God that the smallest tumor is in a place where I felt it – which led to the discovery of the biggest tumors.
And there is other good news: tests and tests have also revealed that my organs, my bones, my brain and my soft tissues are all cancer free! It's a huge relief. At present, the cancer is isolated to the three tumors that we have discovered, so I'm looking forward to starting my treatment. There is no curative treatment for metastatic breast cancer, but I am encouraged by the information provided by the National Cancer Institute that I work with my doctor on a medication plan with diet, exercise and
social and emotional support
improve my quality of life and my life expectancy.
We are very fortunate in the Kansas City subway to have multiple options for excellent cancer care. I am forever grateful to the doctors, nurses, caregivers, receptionists and all the people at St. Luke's Hospital who touched my life and the lives of so many. Vickie Thomas, navigator of My Saint Luke's Navigator, is the unsung hero of my story about breast cancer. She became my personal friend. Thank you Saint Luke for your love and support.
Now, I'm starting this new chapter of my life at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. Dr. Priyanka Sharma, my doctor, will soon start treating my cancer with chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Metastatic breast cancer is new to my husband and me. We are always learning what it is and how it will change our lives. I turned to my friend Barbara Unell, founder and president of
Back to the United States
, an organization that empowers women to improve and protect their health after breast cancer. When I told Barbara that I had metastatic breast cancer, her answer was the truth I needed to know. She spoke to me about a woman with the same cancer who is alive and well and who is still working 15 years after the diagnosis.
Ed and I choose to surround ourselves with positive people like Barbara and her husband Bob, my friend Ethel Davis, my director of information, Carrie Hofmann, and countless friends and strangers. They have contacted me to say that they care about their fate, that they will help and that they will do everything they can to help Ed and me to lead this. new war on cancer.
Despite all the uncertainties, Ed and I are at peace. We hope that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will guide us and give our doctors the wisdom to make the right decisions.
I am in the hands of God. It's in my soul and conscience.
Cynthia's husband, Ed Newsome, shares his point of view:
Honestly, I've never really thought about another breast cancer diagnosis for Cynthia. Our thoughts were centered on our mutual love, our family, the life and the acts that God has called us to do. We both work in a job that improves the lives of others. Our goal will not change.
I have learned to live at the rhythm of life. By faith, I "know that all things are good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). I do not know what the new cancer diagnosis means for the future. The cancer is scary but we are not afraid. The cancer is scary but we are not scared. Cancer is serious, but we are not silenced. I am not angry or disappointed. I am committed and determined to accompany my wife every step of the way.
My priority now is to protect my wife. I will keep his time and minimize his stress. I like the idea that we choose to make this very personal battle public, as Cynthia and I believe that our story could help save the lives of many others. No, another cancer diagnosis was not included in our plans, but I feel that God has a bigger message that he wants to convey through us. That's why I will continue to keep my head up, keep a smile on my face and keep my hope and trust in God. All is well with our souls.