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April’s Story: Embracing Life with Stage 4 Breast Cancer

April is the first person in her family to have breast cancer. In 2015, she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, after a spot was found on her mammogram. April had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. She also took tamoxifen for five years, which she finished in May 2021. “I was always good about getting my mammograms,” she said. “And then after my treatment, I was regular with my checkups and scans.” 

Shortly after finishing tamoxifen in 2021, April’s doctor noticed her blood markers were high. Follow up scans confirmed she had metastatic breast cancer (MBC). “I was at work when I got the call,” April said. “I was so upset. How could I have stage 4 cancer? How did it go from stage 1 to stage 4?”  

April broke down upon hearing the news. “I hadn’t heard of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). When the doctor told me there was no cure, it was just devastating. No cure? You end up thinking about death. In the back of my mind, I was thinking ‘okay, I’m going to go through this for the rest of my life.’ Who wants that?”  

As April worked to understand her diagnosis and new reality, she joined a support group and she turned to Komen’s website for more information about metastatic breast cancer, which is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body, most commonly in the bones, lungs liver or brain. While it can be treated, there is no cure, and treatment focuses on extending life and maintaining quality of life.  

An MBC diagnosis can be overwhelming, but Komen’s resources assure you’re not alone. From information on clinical trials to understanding an MBC diagnosis, treatment and quality of life, Komen has resources to help.  

When April realized she and her oncologist didn’t always see eye-to-eye, she decided to find a new doctor. “I talked to people in my support group about their doctors and found one I feel really listens to me,” she said.  

April’s daughter has been a major source of support for her. “She was in high school when I was first diagnosed with stage 1,” April said. “She was my biggest support then, and she’s my biggest support now. Our family has a strong faith and we believe that one day there is going to be a cure for metastatic breast cancer.”  

April has been able to continue working and is grateful that she hasn’t experienced serious side effects from her treatment. “I try to keep myself stress-free and not worry about things, because it’s enough stress knowing you have to deal with metastatic breast cancer for the rest of your life,” April said. “I know cancer is unpredictable. I feel fine now and am trying to enjoy my life and stay encouraged. I’m not going to give up on hope.”  

Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.