Meet the Models, Christina Clements

Christina Clements beams positivity. It would shock most to know she is living with stage four breast cancer. Even more shocking is the journey that has brought her back to New England since diagnosis.

A military spouse stationed in Guam, Christina had been feeling pain in her left breast for quite some time. Her doctor helped her fight for a mammogram. Given that she was only 39, they received a lot of push back. Ultimately, the mammogram would reveal what was thought to be stage 1 breast cancer. Her decision to undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction meant she would need to fly to San Diego for the procedure. Two weeks prior to her trip, she received word that, due to COVID restrictions, her surgery was cancelled. It meant a new treatment plan and further, one that could be executed in Guam. Christina proceeded with a lumpectomy, which revealed concern of spread: “I remember seeing a look of defeat on the surgeon’s face.” Suddenly, Christina was facing a stage 3 diagnosis.

Feeling jolted by all of the compromises made in her treatment, Christina sent her scans to her cousin’s husband, a radiation oncologist. He suggested she seek treatment elsewhere. Two weeks later, she packed up her two boys, ages 8 and 5, and made the trip from Guam to Maine (during peak COVID) to move in with her sister. She began at square one again with new doctors, new tests and a new support system. Unfortunately, a PET scan revealed cancer in her spine. She was re-diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. It was a devastating blow, made worse by the fact she was no longer able to receive reconstruction. It remains difficult for Christina to accept the probable misdiagnosis and lapse in treatment she received in Gaum: “the difference between my care state side and my care in Guam is night and day.”

She began a daily chemo pill and her diagnosis has remained stable since. She has re-united with her husband and moved her family to Cape Cod. She remains forever grateful for her cousin’s husband who remained by her side throughout. He joined her for treatments and was there to see her ring the bell. Overall, she recognizes how lonely a diagnosis is, but especially during COVID and “at a time when I couldn’t have anyone, he stepped up and I am forever grateful.”

Christina’s magnetic attitude can sometimes throw people off. Indeed, she notes that many are confused to learn she is sick at all, but she says, “just because I am doing lots of things, doesn’t mean I am not dealing with things internally. One day I am going to die from this disease- I will never be cured, so I need to be making the most out of everyday. If I remain positive, that has a lot to say about my survival. I am going to keep on keeping on.”