Living with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer

By: Stacie Mullin

It all started with a lump and a broken spine. First let me back up and say in July 2020 I was having unbearable back pain. After a MRI and multiple xrays I was told I had osteoarthritis. Fast forward two months and I felt a lump in my breast. I have always had cyst but this felt different. It was very hard, not like normal. After diagnosis I thought back and I actually had sharp pain in my armpit many months before but I thought it was my deodorant. So my gynecologist fast tracked me into have a biopsy. The night before my biopsy I sneezed and something hurt bad in my back. By the time my husband came home from work I was balling my eyes out in a ball on the floor. I could not move and was the worst pain I have ever felt, and I had natural childbirth. So we rushed to the ER where I had a CT Scan. I new as soon as the doctor came in what she was about to say. The sadness and pity in her face said it all. “There are cancer lesions on your spine”. Bam, there it was. Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I had been handed my death sentence. Plus I had a fracture on my spine. My poor husband cried and I was just in shock. Plus they had given me pain meds and Valium, so I was numb. That night was the worst night of my life. I didn’t sleep but maybe 10 minutes here and there. I kept getting jolted awake, probably from the meds they gave me. I remember we put Seinfeld on tv and just had it on all night long. I still went to my biopsy the next morning and everything became a blur after that. I was sent right away for radiation to treat the tumor on my spine. Plus a PET scan to see how bad things were. I had breast cancer on spine, ribs and pelvis. So diagnosis was September 22 and radiation ended October 14. I had my first chemo October 22. By the time chemo started I was in a wheelchair because the pain in my body was so bad. It was a very depressing time. My biopsy came back as estrogen positive her 2 positive breast cancer. So it wasn’t the worst kind to have, but also not the best. I later found out I have the ATM gene mutation, which is the cause of my cancer. Treatment would be taxatore herceptin and perjeta every 21 days for 6 treatments. Then herceptin and perjeta indefinitely. I was so scared for the first treatment I had to take Xanax to relax me. It went okay except some pretty bad side effects. Like a rash all over my face, neck and back. My oncologist is amazing and adjusted my meds so the next treatments weren’t as bad. After 2 treatments my tumor markers were down and the breast tumor could not be felt anymore. Treatments were working. I just recently had my 3 month PET scan and things are looking good. The bone mets have decreased and the breast tumor is gone. No new progression. I also had surgery on my back. (Ablation and Kyphoplasty) I am finally able to walk without help and no more pain meds, except Tylenol. The only thing that has got me through this journey so far is my family and faith in God. I believe God put me in this trial so that I can help others. So I can spread his good word and show that God is good. I plan on trying to become an advocate to help others get through this tough journey. I couldn’t imagine being alone in this and don’t want anyone to feel that way. Thank you for reading my story.
Stacie Mullin – Metavivor

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