Betsy’s Story

Site created on July 26, 2022

In early July of 2022, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer had metastasized to my spine. I was also 24 weeks pregnant with our fourth child. Cancer was not on our radar at all throughout the first two trimesters. The diagnosis came as a complete shock.

As we started to deal with the reality of our new situation, we got to work assembling the best medical team we could hope for. I am being treated at UCSF by some of the very best oncologists, maternal fetal medicine doctors, and neurosurgeons on the planet. We were also immediately surrounded by the most incredible community of people from around the world who lifted Jeremy, the kids and I up from day one. We are eternally grateful and truly can’t imagine how we would navigate this long road without the amazing people we have around us.

Jeremy and I are going to use this site to keep people updated on the journey. Our community is incredible and has already held us up through the early chapters of this journey. Everyone keeps asking the same thing - how can we help?  In addition to the support our family will undoubtedly need personally, we want to channel the generosity of our community to help as many people as possible. 

So - like any good team of organizers - we have an ask.

I am lucky to be working with a world renown oncologist who is leading several clinical trials that could change the game for cancer patients like me.  When we started seeking care for my cancer, Dr. Hope Rugo came up again and again as the person to work with - and I was lucky enough to get on her schedule. I also find her to be kind, funny, attentive, and empathetic.  She is working on a number of clinical trials right now that could benefit me directly as well as thousands of other women.  You can learn more about her research and donate here: 

https://givingtogether.ucsf.edu/hooverhope 

We know we have a long journey in front of us but I am confident we can fight through. Thank you for your support and love every step of the way. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Betsy Hoover

I spent time with a friend last week who mentioned I hadn't posted here in awhile. I apologized for that and he said he assumed the silence meant good things... that I was just living life. He is exactly right. Things have been really good and I haven't quite known what to say here. Our days have been full - mostly of our four tiny humans. It is far from quiet but mostly joyful. One day at a time. But today, we have an update!

Last week, I had my first full set of scans since the surgery in September. In my case, scans are a several CTs specifically focused on my spine and abdomen and then a PET CT that looks at my entire body. These scans are used to identify where cancer cells are replicating and if the cancer is spreading. 

Many cancer survivors talk about "scan-xiety". I definitely had my fair share of that over the past few weeks. Once you go through cancer diagnosis and treatment, you know how much life can be upended in a moment. The idea of going back to square one after a few quick pictures is paralyzing. Intellectually, I knew that the scans didn't create the cancer. Whatever is happening is already happening. Scans just tell us about it so we can do something. If my cancer was spreading, I wanted to know as soon as possible. That is the only way to fight. But I was still anxious. 

My cancer is not spreading. In fact, the scans showed no areas of active cancer growth or replication. We could see where the diseased bones are being replaced by healthy bone in my spine and hip. There are no cancer cells detected in my breast. The hormone therapy is working. My body is healing.

I feel strong and healthy and honestly fairly close to normal. Jeremy and I both started back at work at the beginning of the year. Our life is starting resemble what life has always been for us. We just have a fourth kiddo and sore shoulders sometimes. It is energizing and exhausting in mostly good ways. I have started back in a workout routine with yoga, pilates, Peloton rides and lots of walks with Jonah. Our family spent the last two weeks of 2022 in Colorado and I skied! For six days! It wasn't my most aggressive skiing but I did it and it was glorious. I am 5 months out from surgery and still have not had a day without pain in my back. But it is getting more manageable every week. 

For the past several months, I have struggled with how to think about the events of last Fall. Was cancer a thing that happened to me or is it an active emergency in hibernation? The answer undoubtedly lies somewhere in the middle. These scans don't mean the cancer is gone. Metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured today. I will always have it. But my entire medical team is thrilled at these results - and we are too.  

When I was diagnosed last summer, I bought a book for the kids called Cancer Hates Kisses. It is a book that helps kids feel some agency when cancer enters their lives. My kids have internalized the title and will randomly ask me if they can kiss my back. When they heard about the scans, Isaac quickly responded with "it must have been all the kisses". I think he is kind of right. Modern medicine is amazing. When you pair it with support, love, and a whole lot to fight for, we can win big battles. Right now, we are winning.  
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