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How To Balance Life With Metastatic Breast Cancer (VIDEO)

Written by Ted Samson
Posted on March 29, 2024

Meet Becky Caroll | Meet Nina Melad | Return Home


00:00:00:00 - 00:00:31:09
I am definitely living with metastatic breast cancer, and there are certain things I know I cannot do, but there’s a lot of things that I still can do, so I try to do those kinds of things. My typical day is getting up, taking my doggy for a walk, coming home, and getting myself ready, and I do volunteer work in an elementary school three days a week.

00:00:31:11 - 00:00:58:03
I volunteer at a clothing store for children three days a week, and I volunteer for a refugee program. That’s usually about one full day a month. My day is usually very full. One of my favorite things to do when I’m not volunteering, I take my dog down to the park, walk her around for a while, go over to the beach area.

00:00:58:05 - 00:01:26:23
I think in order to keep a schedule, you have to know your highs and lows throughout the day. I’m much more of a morning person. By late afternoon, I need to lay down for half an hour. The chemo that I’m on, I can start to feel the fatigue coming on a little bit late in the afternoon, so I just lay down for half an hour, stretch my back out, and then I’m able to go on until the evening.

00:01:27:00 - 00:01:50:09
My grandkids were here for a whole week. It was great. I planned it all for like Monday and Tuesday, we were going, and then Wednesday I sent them up to a park with Mom and have a little day of rest. So it worked out good. They’re good kids. They understand. It’s really important to know your body when you have cancer.

00:01:50:14 - 00:02:16:12
It’s very, very important. You can do anything as long as you’re honest with yourself because if you try to push yourself too much, then you get exhausted, and it takes you three days to recover from it, and to me, that’s just not worth it. My name is Becky Caroll, and I live with metastatic breast cancer.

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In May 2014, MyBCTeam member Becky Caroll was diagnosed with stage 2 HER2-positive breast cancer. After undergoing treatments including mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery, she thought her cancer was under control. However, four-and-a-half years later, she began having bone and back pain. This led her to discover the cancer had metastasized (spread) to her bones — and later, her brain.

Through it all, Becky has remained committed to living an active, healthy, balanced life. “Once it came back as metastatic, everything changed, because the reality is in front of you and it’s medication every day, all for the rest of my life,” she said. “So that’s really what changed the most ... that I just have to live my life the best I can and go from there.”

Previously a third-grade teacher, Becky realized she wouldn’t be able to continue teaching full time once her cancer had spread. Now, she spends three days per week volunteering at a local elementary school. “I really work very hard with the kids with school. I have a little guy that I mentor, and I love being in school. I miss teaching terribly, so my day is usually very full,” she said.

She also volunteers at a children’s clothing store, with local theaters, and at a refugee program. She’s active with multiple breast cancer support groups — all while making time to socialize with friends, travel, spend time with grandchildren, and take her dog out for daily walks to the park or the beach.

Becky makes sure to stick to her treatment schedule and other appointments, which can be time-consuming and difficult to track. “My schedule for my treatment is very odd. It’s three weeks, one thing, four weeks, one thing, four weeks, another thing. So it’s very on, off, on, off when I have to have blood work to see the doctor. So I have my calendar, and I know everything that I have to do,” she said.

She also takes time to check in with herself and is careful not to overexert herself. “In order to keep a schedule, you have to know your highs and lows throughout the day,” she said. “The chemo that I’m on, the oral that I’m on, I can start to feel the fatigue coming on a little bit late in the afternoon. So I just lay down for half an hour, stretch my back out, and then I’m able to go on until the evening.”

Both cancer and treatments can take a physical toll, and Becky sometimes has days where she needs to stay home and rest. “A bad day is when I wake up, I have diarrhea, I can’t get it under control. I have to change all my plans because it’s just not working,” she said. “I have to call and say I need to come in for fluids. But I try to take control of it. I try to say, ’OK, this is going to pass. Let’s just do what works.’”

Find Your Team

On MyBCTeam, the social network for people with breast cancer and their loved ones, more than 69,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with breast cancer.

Are you living with metastatic breast cancer? How has it affected your day-to-day life? Share your experiences in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

More Videos

Becky plays an active role in working with her health care team to choose treatments that best meet her personal needs.

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In 2018, Becky’s HER2-positive breast cancer diagnosis took a turn for the worse when back pain led to the discovery that the cancer had spread to her bones.

Watch Video

Posted on March 29, 2024
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Ted Samson is a copy editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.

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