Kathleen Friel is the epitome of hope. Living with Cerebral Palsy has introduced many challenges into her life, but it became more complicated when intense spine pain landed her in the emergency room. After seeing a spine surgeon, he decided to do a biopsy. It would reveal stage 4, metastatic breast cancer.
The diagnosis came as a shock because she had been diligent about breast exams and had previous clear mammograms. To this day, they have never found lumps in her breast. Given the stage 4 diagnosis, a mastectomy was not an option, but Kathleen underwent surgery to remove her fallopian tubes and as of recently, the scans have looked good, with no further cancer detected.
She notes that the daily medication can take its toll. From the immediate menopause to the neuropathy, her body has been challenged, but she is grateful to her team of doctors at Sloan Memorial Kettering who let her have a voice. Given that she is their only patient with CP and breast cancer, they have had to work together to figure out a treatment plan that works. She is well aware that though scans are good, the “cancer dust” is always there and the treatments are to prevent those dust bunnies from growing into tumors.
In all, she hopes her walk down the runway shows a different side to stage 4 breast cancer: “five years later and I am still here and living. This diagnosis is not just a go home and die situation.”