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Sandra’s Story

If you don't know already, I was diagnosed Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer in January 2011. Obviously, it was a shock.  The good news is that we have acted aggressively.  We will use this site to keep everyone up to date on my treatments and prognosis. We thank everyone for the outpouring of support for all of your prayers and happy thoughts!

The most common question that we have gotten is how did you find out? I found out after visiting my OB/Gyn and talking about some issues that came up after Anya's birth. He immediately sent me next door to the Breast Center for imaging. Between 8am and 11am I had gone through an exam, mammogram, ultrasound, core needle biopsy, and had a diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer.
We found out pretty early on that the cancer has spread to my bones (pelvis and spine), making it officially stage 4. The type of breast cancer is estrogen and progestrogen positive, so it is likely that I have had this since I got pregnant with Anya.

We are lucky to have such a great support system and we are moving forward with hopeful spirits and ready to take on this new challenge. Please keep in touch, we may take a little while to get back to people, but we really appreciate all of our friends, family, and colleagues both in Chicago and across the continent.

Sandra, Sanjay, Raj and Anya

Latest Journal Update

It's not the lottery, but...

I have to say that today I am feeling pretty lucky. No, I didn't win the big Powerball last night, but five years ago today I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Why is that lucky? Well, I was at first told that the median survival time was ~ 2 years. I have more than doubled that now. I am not lucky for getting breast cancer, but I do feel quite fortunate that I have been blessed with treatments that have given me periods of relief from cancer. I am consistently reminded that I still HAVE cancer by the fact that it seems to like to return to its old haunting grounds, but I have also been blessed with long periods of time when I was considered "stable" and even sometimes "no evidence of disease." So many of my friends have not been so lucky. They have had to endure one harsh treatment after another, and even then suffered from pain and side effects. In many cases, their cancer has continued to spread to new areas and they are back on IV chemo and in some cases being told that they have "months, not years". What have I done to deserve my good fortune? Is it because I have some magic diet or lifestyle? Is it because I am more optimistic than others (not really, I have had several periods of time when I've had to go on antidepressants to keep me on track)? Is it because God loves me more? Of course not, that is the most ridiculous concept! I'm just lucky. I just happen to have the type of breast cancer that currently has several treatment options available, most of which have relatively mild side effects for me (weight gain, stiff joints, foggy-head, etc.). My friends have not all been so lucky. You see, even if they have the same tumor markers that I have (ER/PR+, HER2-), sometimes the drugs that we have today just do not work for them. Why is that? Only science can tell us this and not enough money is being spent on the science behind metastatic cancer! I want to publicly thank everyone that has helped me over the last five years, from family that have given up the comforts of home to come and nurse me back to health, to the caring neighbors of 3rd (oops accidentally wrote 4th!!) Street in Wilmette, IL, to all of my amazing metasisters here in Houston, to my loving husband and children. You have given me the physical strength to keep doing the things that I love, like parenting, teaching and advocacy. You inspire me to make a difference so that more women may be as lucky / blessed as I have been. I will not be doing the Avon Walk this year, it is too difficult on my body and I need to be prepared for my next steps of treatment. I also want to spend all of my fundraising efforts in 2016 to help establish the first Advanced Breast Cancer Center of Excellence (ABC COE) at MD Anderson. As you go through the year, if you consider purchasing something pink in my honor, please reconsider and donate to help my dream of a ABC COE a reality. />

Thank you again dear friends for all of your support over the last 5 years, it has meant the world to me.

7 people hearted this



Susan Rafte
By Susan Rafte
Here's to all the luck in the world, everything else that working for you, and 5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5...years -- that should get you to at least 80!
1 person hearted this
Nik Rokop
By Nik Rokop
Happy New Year Sandra, and many, many more!!!
1 person hearted this
Shannon Kerne
By Shannon Kerne
I am so happy for you and your family. And thank you for being such a great welcoming face and help.
1 person hearted this
Kathy Garstecki
By Kathy Garstecki
You are truly inspiring. Celebrate your "luck"
2 people hearted this