Metastatic breast cancer survivor: Living with ‘realistic optimism’

As a metastatic breast cancer survivor, I participate in a lot of support groups. I’m probably active in at least five or six on Facebook alone. The people I’m closest to are in the “Stage IV Under 40” and the “Pregnant or Breastfeeding with Cancer” communities. One of the hardest parts of having metastatic — or stage IV — cancer is losing friends in those support groups. And since I was diagnosed in October 2016, I’ve had more close friends from there die than I did in my entire 32 years before that. In fact, the very first person I connected with — who was diagnosed at the same time I was — passed away in April. That was really, really difficult. But I try not to get discouraged or let it affect my perception of the disease. Because the way I see it, everybody’s cancer experience is different. My story is not my friends’ who have passed. They had their own stories. My story is my story. And it is unique to me. ‘Realistic optimism’ defined: enjoying the time we have The hardest part of having cancer has been knowing I have two genetic mutations — BRCA2 and CHEK2 — that I might’ve passed down to my kids. My understanding is it’s rare to have one, but almost unheard of to have two. And my kids have a 50% chance of inheriting each one from me. We haven’t had the kids tested yet. Our pediatrician said there’s no reason to until they’re older. So that’s for further down the road. I just hate that that might be something they’re...