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Living Life Scan To Scan

Ashley Fernandez and Brenda Nelson are living with metastatic breast cancer, also called stave IV, the most advanced stage of breast cancer that cannot be cured. Their breast cancer has already spread beyond their breasts to other parts of their bodies, and their treatment aims to shrink their tumors and prevent the cancer from spreading.

They both have to get frequent scans to see if their treatment is working. Brenda goes every 21 days and Ashley, who recently surpassed five years from her diagnosis, now goes once every three months. Unfortunately, the majority of people diagnosed with MBC do not live more than three years from the time of diagnosis.

“I’m just so happy to still be here and able to celebrate little milestones, big milestones, and lots of mile markers in between, and just enjoying every single part of it,” Ashley says. 

Brenda is about one year out of from her diagnosis and she’s still learning to celebrate the small and big wins at each step of her journey.

“Every 21 days I got, I think, 12 chemo rounds. And every 21 days I go for antibodies. So every 21 days, it’s antibodies, every three months scans. So I celebrate in 21 day increments,” Brenda says.

Ashley and Brenda both recently moved to new states with their families and have struggled with making new friends and knowing how much to share about their personal lives with the people they meet.

“Most of the time when people find that it’s stage IV, they’re kind of weird. They’re so kind. You’re just not getting those invites anymore. So I just try to be really like just use my discernment and be like, ‘Hey, is this like a safe person to tell everything to? Should I not?’ But also if you Google me or if you even try to like look at my Instagram, my Facebook, anything, you can see what I’m living with and what I do,” Ashley says.

Brenda adds, “I’m like struggling with how much do I share because I felt like people were like waiting for me to die because you have stage IV. And so it was like, ‘How much do I share? How much do I not share?’ And finally I put my story on there so that way it wasn’t in front of people who didn’t want to see it or couldn’t handle the emotion.”

Listen to the full conversation with Brenda and Ashley on Real Talk