Keri's Metastatic Breast Cancer Story: The Breast Cancer has Spread
My wife Keri Haberstroh was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 25. My name is Doug, and I’m here to tell Keri’s story. It is what she would have wanted.
Keri had just finished her second round of chemotherapy treatment and breast reconstruction when she noticed a pain in her pelvic area. She had the pain checked, and as it turns out, our battle with cancer was not over yet. A small amount of her breast cancer moved through the bloodstream and took up home in her tailbone.
As she explains below to all our family, it’s just another step, but this one really caught us off guard. The doctor visit we had after the scans that proved the cancer had moved was one that will be in my memory forever. It always reminds me of those times when you just shake your head and say to yourself, what now? I actually believe Keri took the news better than I did, but I know we stayed up late that night talking and I’ll never forget those moments.
Subject: Updatent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 6:08 PM
Once again with the updates. I don’t know if all of you will remember so I will be backtracking a little, but a few weeks ago I was having a pain in my pelvic area that was becoming a nuisance. I had it checked out and we believed it to be something dealing with my sciatic nerve. Well, the results of the bone scan and the x-rays did show a point of interest where my point of pain is, but they were not clear enough so an MRI was scheduled.
I went to get that MRI done a couple of days ago after I enjoyed my trip to Oklahoma for a couple of weeks vacation. Well, the MRI is a more extensive test and I laid in one position not able to move for almost an hour. Which is really hard to do by the way. Especially when about half way through you develop an itch.
Anyway the results of the MRI were given to me this morning and it seems that there is a growth in my sacrum bone. It also seems that the growth is cancerous. I have been told that this is more than likely a lingering seed from my breast cancer that didn’t get killed from the chemo and has found a new home through the blood stream. So this is not a new cancer it’s just breast cancer in a new spot.
I have also been told it is small and obviously it has to be because we didn’t finish chemo that long ago. Anyway the treatment for this is radiation instead of chemo. They will not be doing any surgeries because they cannot remove any of that bone. Therefore radiation is the only option I have. Since it is caught so early and therefore is so small I will only have to endure 14 radiation treatments.
They of course have to do a couple of preliminary things, which include my first tattoo of little marks so that they know where to aim the laser. They have suggested a cream for me to use to help with the skin irritation that goes along with the radiation.
I will go once a day Mon-Fri and have the weekends off until my 14 treatments are up. I don’t have a date yet on when the first one will be, but I do know it will be as soon as possible so I am guessing some time next week.
I am having extra scans done to make sure that the cancer growth is in that one localized spot, but according to my pain and the other scans that have already been done it doesn’t seem to be anywhere else. So I guess I just wasn’t going to make it through all this without having radiation as well. Just never thought it was going to be on my butt instead of my breast. (ha ha) I am obviously trying to keep up my positive attitude.
Really it seems like the radiation will be more like a “walk in the park” compared to the chemo. Although watch I’ll jinx myself and now I’ll have a tough time with it. Plus the good part is I get to keep my hair this time.
From what I understand the 14 treatments that I am getting is their standard or minimum of what is given and should make it easier to handle. I guess the side effects are worse when you have to get more treatments, which makes sense. Anyway it really feels like this is just another step that I have to get over to get to the real end of things.
Since I haven’t really been that far out of treatments and certainly not that far out of having doctor’s appointments it feels like just another round and then maybe we’ll be finished. I’ll let you all know when I start my treatments and then you can count down the days with me.
We are still planning to take our trip to Disney World at the end of April and the doctors know that as well so hopefully they will comply with our schedule. I just don’t want to miss out on Disney. So I’m back on prescription pills again even though I worked so hard to get off them.
I have been told that the steroid that I have been put on will help with my pain and with attacking the tumor as well. That’s a nice plus. Of course they also make me hungry and keep me up until 3:00 in the morning, but then I have another pill I take to help with that problem as well.
It kind of gets funny and a little ridiculous sometimes when you think about how many pills you have to take because of the side effects of the other pills you are taking. Before you know it you’re taking 5 pills, but really only two of them are the important ones the others are just for the side effects of the important two. Well, I guess maybe you have to live that one to find the humor in it. I think it’s funny.
Okay, I am at my rambling stage, which means it’s time to close out the email before it becomes a novel. I’ll of course be keeping you all posted on my treatment and progress and maybe even a few things you really don’t have to know about I just need to get them out of my head. Just one more bump in the road, but I swear there has to be a smooth patch coming soon.
Love to you all,
Doug Haberstroh wrote about breast cancer for HealthCentral. Doug produced a reality-based comic strip chronicling his life with his wife, Keri, who was only 25 when she was first diagnosed with invasive/infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Keri passed away in 2006.