Metastatic Breast Cancer, MBC for short, is Stage IV breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to another organ or part of the body and is incurable. Approximately 1 in 3 women with early stage breast cancer will develop Metastatic Breast Cancer, and six percent of patients have MBC at first diagnosis, known as “de novo.” Medical advancements have enabled people diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to live longer with a better quality of life.
I had the honor of interviewing Kelli Davis, an MBC Thriver, for my podcast Fearless Fabulous Tips for Healthy Living (iHeart Radio). Kelli was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26. Unfortunately, Kelli’s cancer recurred, not once, but twice. The third diagnosis was metastatic. Kelli told me that her MBC diagnosis left her with survivor imposter syndrome.
Kelli shared, “I had been the breast cancer survivor poster child for my local (Arkansas) community and active in many awareness programs. When I was diagnosed with MBC, I felt my body had betrayed me, and that I had let down those who supported me. I just wanted to crawl up in a ball and hide,” Kelli stopped eating, took to her bed and found it difficult to talk. She felt Isolated and spiraled into depression. She even contemplated taking her own life. Sadly, Kelli’s husband left her at a time when she needed love and support. I have heard this story too many times! The spouse becomes angry and cannot cope.
Kelli made the decision to enter a mental health facility to seek treatment for her depression. There she met a cancer mentor named Max who had also been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Max helped Kelli refocus, saying “You can get busy living or get busy dying.” Max’s support helped Kelli find renewed purpose. She vowed to serve the MBC community as an advocate to let people know they do not need to feel alone and isolated.
During her time in rehab, Kelli came with the idea of creating a Metsquerade to raise money for MBC research. She said it started as an idea for a local fundraiser. Today, Metsquerade events are health all over the country and have raised over $2 million. Now 37, Kelli has a new job and a new love in her life who reminds her every day what a beautiful person she is. She still sees her therapist to manage bouts of depression. We discussed how important it is to realize that asking for help is a sign of strength.
Kelli tattooed the words “Not Today” on her arm. She acknowledged that one day MBC may take her life, but for now she plans to live every day to her fullest potential. Every day she has is a gift, and she never takes this for granted.
Kelli Davis’ story is part of Facing MBC Together, a public educational resource and patient support initiative to address the isolation many people living with metastatic breast cancer experience. Presented by Athenex Oncology, the program offers a helpful digital resource for anyone living with MBC to create their own personal support networks and includes 9 people who share their personal experiences. www.facingmbctogether.com/stories
Listen to Kelli’s story here on Fearless Fabulous Tips for Healthy Living, or click this link.
Need someone to talk to?
Cancer Support Helpline: 1-888-793-9355
CancerCare’s Hopeline: 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)
Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) Breast Cancer Helpline: 1-888-753-5222
SHARE (www.sharecancersupport.org): 1-844-ASK-SHARE