Managing metastatic breast cancer as a recurrence

No matter how long it’s been since you had breast cancer, finding out that the cancer has metastasized, or spread, may bring feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, betrayal and sadness. You may also feel guilty, or believe you or your doctors could have done something differently to prevent the cancer’s return.

You are not alone. Researchers believe that up to 30 percent of people first diagnosed with early-stage breast cancerinfo-icon will develop metastaticinfo-icon disease.

Mainstream media tend to focus on stories of survivorship, and to praise people who appear to have “fought their battle” with breast cancer, heroically and successfully. The lack of public awareness of metastatic breast cancer can leave you feeling isolated, misunderstood and unsupported.

How Did This Happen?

Even with the best treatments for a primary breast cancer, it’s possible for the cancer to return later. There was always a chance some cancer cells would survive and cause metastases someday, even if that chance was very small.

Regular tests or noticing symptoms might have helped you and your doctors find the metastasisinfo-icon earlier, but research shows that finding metastaticinfo-icon breast cancer early does not change the outcomeinfo-icon. You are not to blame.

It’s normal to feel that you’ve lost trust in your doctors or treatments, or to be angry with your medical team or yourself. As you learn more about your diagnosisinfo-icon and your treatment options, these feelings may fade. Don’t rush yourself—allow time to make sense of the news and to feel your feelings.

August 31, 2015