Dealing With Change After Diagnosis

September 21, 2015

From the moment she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, Adrian McClenney dealt with a rollercoaster of change. She writes reflects on her journey, including life after her diagnosis of stage IV. Learn how you can support people like Adrian through our Beyond the Breast Campaign.

I am a wife, mother, grandmother , sister and friend. On May 19, 2011, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. My treatment regimen consisted of me completing 16 cycles of chemotherapy treatments, getting a bilateral double mastectomy and 37 radiation therapy treatments. I finished treatments in March 2012, which is when I was considered no evidence of disease (NED).

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In July 2012 I had some issues with with my ovaries. After medical screenings, it was then suggested that I have a hysterectomy. I had the surgery and the surgery went well. I had a few minor complications after the surgery which delayed my healing. It can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks for healing after this particular surgery, but it took me about 12 weeks because of minor complications.
 
Being diagnosed with a deadly disease such as breast cancer changes your life in ways you can’t begin to imagine.
 
I remember sleeping a full night sleep, which was about 7 to 8 hours. Now, I’m sleeping only 2 to 3 hours a night, if that and that has been going on since 2011. There are many things in life that happen completely unplanned (much of it we don’t even want to happen) but we adjust, regroup and keep pushing forward.
 
My daughter was in 4th grade when I was diagnosed with stage IIIB breast cancer. My son had just graduated high school and started his first year of college. I attended PTA meetings, football games, birthday parties, family trips, family dinner dates and just plain old mother and son time with my son. I feel like my daughter is being cheated out of time with her mom because I was unable to attend her dance practices, cheerleader practices, school events, family events, fixing her hair, shopping and so much more due to this deadly disease. I worry about my daughter more than anything in this world. No one can love her like me.
 
There are so many things that changed with my day to life especially my energy. Many things changed tremendously with my husband and me. He cooked dinner, cleaned our home, he did laundry and worked 60 hours a week at his job. I may be wrong for saying this but there are many days I would look at my husband and actually feel sorry for him and feel like he deserved better. I say this because there are so many days where I don’t want to talk yet along hug or kiss.
 
As months past I tried very hard to get my life in order. I would attend therapy treatments to help me move forward. The psychiatrist that I saw on a weekly basis felt like I was doing quite well under the circumstances.
 
Moving forward and healing quite well I was hit with yet another devastating blow. In July 2014. I was devastated when I was re-diagnosed with a metastasis of my original breast cancer diagnosis.  The cancer has now spread to my neck, chest wall and pelvic area. To hear those words made me very sad. My oncologist said to me, “Unfortunately Mrs. McClenney you will be doing chemotherapy for the rest of your life.”
 
Life as I know it has completely been turned upside down. At this time it is hard for me to even handle a simple load of laundry, get the mail, cook a simple meal or even drive my car. These simple things make me feel as if I have ran miles. Marathon miles.
 
No matter what I refuse to lose. I am tired every day, but it is my duty to fight like a big girl. I face all my the challenges with a smile. I have a family that needs me but loves me more. At the end of the day I am EXHAUSTED and I may not be the same but I refuse to not fight back. Some days the most I can do is shower and read; with those days, I feel as if I have conquered the world. If I could leave you with any words today it would be to know your family history and most of all know your body. And most importantly, you’re not alone!

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