This blog outlines updates on the life of Frances Gill, and Australian woman in her mid-30s with metastatic breast cancer.
So, why start a blog over two years after diagnosis? Cancer didn’t seem to rule my life so much in the past. I was able to work, and carry on a fairly normal life. Lately thing have changed, and it’s important to update people in a way that’s not too taxing on my friends and family.
I found out that I had breast cancer when I was 35, and I was stage 4 at diagnosis. I’d had a lump for years, and that dreaded “lumpy breasts” thing, that doctors and us women often don’t know what to do about. We keep getting them checked every year, don’t know what we’re feeling for, and doctors say it can’t turn cancerous. That’s not my beef, I’m over that bit now.
I’m single. I was told when I was diagnosed that I wouldn’t be able to have children, pretty bluntly with no counselling. I worked through the first 18 months of my treatment, mostly because I had to financially, but also because I needed to maintain a connection to what was normal for me. I’ve stopped work now, as I couldn’t do my job properly anymore. My employers were great, and I was good at my job, but my health became more unstable, and more important to protect.
I recall when I was in my 20’s, and in a long-term relationship, thinking about marriage, babies, buying property, that I had the thought about how horrible it might be to get a disease like cancer at a young age, and be dying, and alone. It wasn’t a thought I pondered on, because at that stage I thought it would never happen to me. My life was pretty perfect then. On track, going to plan. Things changed, and I took a different path.
I feel I’ve had a good life. I’ve travelled extensively, lived overseas, and had great relationships. I’ve tried dating since my diagnosis, and I know some people find happiness, but I found it too hard explaining all the time. People don’t get it, so I gave up.
Recently I’ve been quite unwell. Over two years of solid treatment we’ve found out through trial and error that I don’t respond to hormone therapy well and that chemo doesn’t seem to work on my bone metastasies. Some chemos have worked on my liver mets, but they stop working after a while. I’m pretty much down to my last option – Eribulin – which I’ve been paying for myself to have.
Breast cancer has taken everything, well, most things, from me. My career, the ability to have kids, my financial independence, all of my money, the chance of getting married, my figure, my ability to be free and live life the way I want. That said, when people meet me, especially when they find out my situation, they always comment on how well I look, how inspirational I am, how positive and upbeat I am, and generally they’re right. Most people find it hard to believe and accept that I am dying, its perplexing. I am not down on everything, angry or even sad. I just wish that people understood.