The New York Times

I saw a request for breast cancer stories in the on-line version of the New York Times, so I submitted my story, never thinking that it would be selected. But there I am … with a photo of myself with my great niece Sophie taken in August this year. Victoria Ford from Lymington, Hampshire, UK. The stories seem to be moving around the page so you may have to search for me.

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/your-breast-cancer-stories/?story=1136

They are still accepting stories from anywhere in the world so you can add yours in 500 words and by scrolling to the bottom the page.

I have been very depressed recently with a lot of stress at work and this has made me think that I really can make a tiny bit of a difference.

Lives with breast cancer and loves someone with breast cancer.

Location

Lymington, Hampshire, England

Diagnosis Age

47

Diagnosis Stage

Stage IV

Nonsurgical Treatments

Aromatase inhibitors

Radiation

Tamoxifen

Diagnosis Details

ER positive

HER2 positive

Invasive cancer

Submitted by Victoria Ford

“I have had metastatic breast cancer for over five years and have found my own way of coexisting, and even thriving with it.

My mother had breast cancer when she was about the age I am now (53), but she had a mastectomy and needed no further treatment. She died 15 years later of something unrelated.

When my cancer was diagnosed, I was not overly concerned because of my mother’s experience. A nurse booking me in before my mastectomy commented about how calm I was about the whole thing. My reply was that I would worry about it when there was something to really worry about. My mother’s experience with breast cancer showed me that it is not an automatic death sentence and that life continues. However, my diagnosis was delayed by doctors not acting on evidence from cancer markers that they had five years before the diagnosis, and after I found the lump in my breast.

I am single, I live alone and try not to be a burden on my brother and his family who live in the same town.

For me the biggest problem is the lack of support and the lack of contact with others with a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. Just to know that you are not the only one, and that what you are going through is actually perfectly normal, is of huge importance when dealing with this disease. Knowing that there is no set way to react, that anger is normal, can be an enormous relief and would really help relationships on all levels.

Finding a way to live with this disease is difficult, and hearing that your cancer can’t be cured simply changes everything. While I still have conventional treatment, I have also used alternative treatments like acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, reflexology and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction meditation to empower my mind and body to live life as fully as possible. It takes a while to even begin to appreciate that you still have a life after an incurable diagnosis.

Each journey is unique, but finding the right path for each of us should be much easier than it is. Big breast cancer charities have little or no interest in us, preferring to concentrate on Pinkness, survivorship and awareness. This excludes those with an incurable stage of the disease. This excludes the fact that men get breast cancer, too. This excludes the fact that mammograms don’t always detect cancer, including the most lethal form, which is inflammatory breast cancer.

Those most in need are not pink, are not “survivors” and are not only women.

My life depends on progress being made. Well over 400,000 lives a year worldwide depend on progress being made. “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” (Stalin), and yet so many seem to care more about their reputation, their non-profit branding and drug company profits than they do about the tragedy of a single death.”

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