HOLTON, Kan. (KSNT) – According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it’s estimated more than 154,000 women will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2019.
This means that the cancer has spread beyond the breast and into key organs.
Jolene Brauer from Holton, Kansas, has been diagnosed with breast cancer two times within the last decade. The first time around, her breast cancer was found early thanks to her routine mammogram screening.
“I was 45 when I was first diagnosed, and that was found with regular screening with no history of breast cancer in my family. I was 55 when I found it the second time in my bones,” said Jolene.
At that time, she was treated with a lumpectomy and radiation. In 2018, her symptoms were very different.
“I was immobilized. I could not walk anymore. In fact, I was in so much pain I don’t remember a whole lot about that day or the ensuing next 7 days,” explained Jolene.
Robin McKay, a Nurse Practitioner at the Cotton O’Neil Cancer Center said, “Breast cancer unfortunately often goes to the bones. Sometimes with a re-occurrence, we will see a deep, aching, persistent pain as the presenting symptom of a legion in the bone.”
Jolene said, “If I had not kept pushing and said this is not right, I may not have made it here. I might have simply kept being told it’s simply back pain. But the doctors looked at my entire health.”
To treat her metastatic breast cancer, Jolene gets targeted chemotherapy every three weeks, for the rest of her life or until a cure is found.
“I think the breast cancer treatments have had a lot of advances over the last decade or so, where we are able to target specific receptors on cells,” Robin explained.
The targeted treatment has fewer side effects and is working well for Jolene.
“Our goal was simply to maintain. We don’t want the cancer to grow. We want to maintain or decrease and I actually had a decrease. The life expectancy with the targeted therapy I am receiving is excellent. There are reports of women living many many years with the targeted therapy,” boasted Jolene.
So with support from her doctors and the palliative team at Stormont Vail, Jolene focuses every day on having a good attitude to fight and have the best quality of life possible.