Blogs > Sharing the news of my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis

Sharing the news of my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis

Keeping it private or opening up: Deciding who to tell

Amy Almas, a young mom, poses with her energetic children, a boy and a girl, on a soccer field

For almost 40 years, my life has been a whirlwind of travel, hockey games, camping trips, and making memories with loved ones, including my almost 12-year-old pup who has been by my side through thick and thin. Now, with my energetic three-year-old daughter and amazing five-year-old son keeping me busy, life can be crazy, but it’s immensely joyful too.

This past August, everything changed. I discovered a lump in my breast. Panic set in immediately. Appointments, tests, more appointments, and procedures ensued – the anxiety was almost crippling at times. Fast forward to a couple of weeks after my 39th birthday in October, I received a devastating diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma.

Finding support and facing the unknown

I reached out to some friends from hockey who had recently had breast cancer for guidance, and their advice was invaluable. Telling others was a process. I confided in a few close friends, but when some shared my news without permission, I was angry. This was my story to tell, and I wasn't ready to deal with all the inevitable conversations.

The kids were a big concern. My daughter is too young to really understand. But my son is very sensitive, and I didn’t want him to be scared. Their father, who I do not live with, was one of the first people I told, however, and we consulted with a child-life specialist about informing the kids. I used simple language to tell my son and answer his questions. While breast cancer seems an abstract concept for him, he knows I’m sick.

By this point, I had only shared my diagnosis with a handful of people. I was scared, but extremely optimistic. I felt supported, even if some offers, like shaving heads in solidarity, weren’t quite my style. Work became a welcome distraction as I awaited a final scan before meeting my surgeon in mid-November. Still functional, taking care of the kids and managing work, I felt relatively in control of my life.

Amy Almas smiles broadly, her hair styled in long waves
A beautiful family portrait of Amy Almas outside with her two super-smiley children

Sharing a new reality: Navigating difficult conversations

That seemingly ordinary Monday in November turned into one of the worst days of my life.

The surgeon explained that the scan revealed the breast cancer had spread, and there were lesions on my liver. I didn't even know it was possible to have breast cancer in my liver! My entire life was about to change forever. I had stage IV triple-positive breast cancer. This was incurable, and I would be in treatment for the rest of my life.

My friend drove me home from that appointment, and I arrived to a quiet house. Tears streamed down my face, and I knew it was time to tell my family. I called my sister first, then my parents, and broke the news to them. My mom almost immediately asked if she could tell my aunt, who was coming to visit that night. I agreed but emphasized that I wanted to share the news myself – I still didn't have all the answers.

My boss was incredibly sympathetic and offered me all the time and support I needed, but I planned to go to work the next day. Honestly, I wasn't sure what else to do. Staying home all day might have led me down a Google rabbit hole, and I didn’t need any help feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to try and live as normally as possible for as long as I could.

That evening, even with puffy eyes, I went to hockey, and of course, the news spread quickly among my teammates. When I walked into the changing room, I told one of my closest friends the news. Another teammate, facing her own medical struggles, confided in me, too. We vowed to tough things out and support each other, come what may.

The emotional rollercoaster: Facing fear, anger, and vulnerability

The next few days were a blur. Thankfully, my appointment with the oncologist came soon. My friend accompanied me to the hospital where I received a treatment plan. While I wasn't thrilled about chemo, the doctor was encouraging and optimistic. He'd seen many cases like mine where patients responded well and have been thriving with cancer for decades.

A combination of weekly chemotherapy along with targeted/immunotherapy every three weeks became my new reality. I imagined the chemo shrinking the tumors throughout my body, while the targeted therapies would attack the fuel feeding the cancer cells.

We started treatment the very next Wednesday, at my request, so I could still play hockey on Monday and maybe work a couple of days. The doctor assured me that treatment wouldn't disrupt my routine too much, but everyone reacts differently, right? I wasn’t sure how my body would respond or what would really be in store for me.


Amy Almas snuggles with her young daughter who has a purple pacifier in her mouth. They both wear soft knit caps on their heads.

More than just a diagnosis: Living with metastatic breast cancer

My wise boss encouraged me to focus on my family and take time off work. It's been a blessing to be home, rest, and avoid the daily stress work can bring. And I’m doing okay. Sure, I grapple with 'chemo fog' -- I can literally forget what I am doing in the middle of doing it -- and I get tired much faster, but I'm incorporating exercise to rebuild my stamina.

Life lessons to put into practice

This experience has been a wild ride. While I'm looking forward to many more years to come, this year has brought some powerful life lessons:

  • Prioritize rest. It's okay to take a step back and relax. The mess will still be there later, and it's okay to leave it.
  • No more "powering through." My health comes first now. My immune system is compromised, and my family needs me at my best.
  • It's okay to ask for help, so be sure to ask for what you need. People genuinely want to help, and being specific with how they can help supports everyone. I'm learning to accept that there are people who care and will be there for me when I need them.
  • Set boundaries: let someone know what you need, when you need it, and for how long.
  • Above all, be true to yourself. Some people want to write blogs, create videos, and shout their diagnosis out to the world, but others prefer to keep things to themselves. You might fall somewhere in the middle of those two alternatives.

This journey is far from over, but I'm facing it head-on.



The views and opinions of our bloggers represent the views and opinions of the bloggers alone and not those of Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Also understand that Living Beyond Breast Cancer does not medically review any information or content contained on, or distributed through, its blog and therefore does not endorse the accuracy or reliability of any such information or content. Through our blog, we merely seek to give individuals creative freedom to tell their stories. It is not a substitute for professional counseling or medical advice.


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