Metastatic from the start, but making the most of it

March 23, 2018


Before January 24, 2017, I had not heard the words “metastatic” or “de novo.” I had felt a lump, made an appointment with an OB/GYN, then found a larger lump while I was waiting for my appointment. During the appointment, in my heart of hearts, I knew the mammographer called someone in, not for assistance, but because of what she saw (totally understandable).

Ironically, at this point, I still thought I had caught my breast cancer early and it would be a pretty quick fix. So after scheduling a double mastectomy then having scans of my bones, abdomen, chest and pelvis a few weeks after surgery, it was revealed that my cancer was metastatic from the start.

A lot of fears and unknowns come along with that diagnosis. But I have chosen to manage those fears by embracing a positive attitude and living life to the fullest.

You may be asking yourself, “How can this woman believe that metastatic breast cancer was (and still is) anything but horrific news?” All in all, I have decided that I am going to control my attitude since I cannot control the cancer. I will wake up every day and focus on the positives. Yes, it is very early in this process for me (a little over a year into it) but I cannot accurately express how much having a positive attitude has helped me cope.

I CHOOSE not to go down the negative rabbit hole that consumes so many with metastatic breast cancer. Yes, it’s a choice! I highly suggest you read this poem, entitled The Dash, by Linda Ellis. It embodies my outlook on life and has helped me immensely:

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.  What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and  more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?

So now I sit here, waiting to get my quarterly scans. I do not know what they’ll say but, whatever it is, I’m choosing to make the best of it. We only get one life and I’m not going down without a smile on my face and a heart full of love and appreciation.

Andy Sealy is from Philadelphia. She is a graduate of LBBC's Hear My Voice Advocacy program. 

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