Kaitlyn Hanna is our guest blogger. Kaitlyn is 28 years old and has had many setbacks, including the rare metastasis in the cerebral spinal fluid. Kaitlyn asked to share her story so others may know that metastasis can be very tricky and rare events can happen.
My name is Kaitlyn and I want to share my story. I am 28 years old and fear I don’t have much time left. It is so important to fund research so that people, like me, don’t have to die from stage IV, metastatic breast cancer.
I was diagnosed April 2015 with what the doctor thought was stage 2 breast cancer. The doctor I was seeing at the time told me I was too young for breast cancer much less stage IV metastatic breast cancer (blah, blah, blah). Shortly after, I found out my diagnosis was not only breast cancer, but stage 4 Metastatic, HER2+ breast cancer. I have lesions in my spine and liver. I always remained positive. I’m not sure how, really, but probably because of my support system. I did six rounds of chemotherapy; once every three weeks as well as Herceptin and Perjeta once every three weeks… indefinitely. Herceptin and Perjeta did a great job of protecting my body but, unfortunately, the molecules are too big to cross the blood brain barrier. On January 8, 2018, after having a week-long migraine the doctor discovered a tumor in my right cerebellum. I went into surgery two days later. Once they removed the tumor in my brain, they performed targeted radiation therapy. I thought I was in the clear.
In March or 2018, my MRI showed spots throughout my spinal fluid which is a late complication of my stage 4 breast cancer. Only about 2-5 % of patients are diagnosed with metastatic cancer in the spinal fluid. It is incredibly rare for being only 28 years old. In March or 2019, I started having trouble walking so I went through full spine radiation. Thankfully, I was able to walk with my right foot again. It didn’t surprise me that a few months later I would have difficulty walking again. What I dreaded came true. My leptomeningeal disease became active and I would begin what is known to be a terminal battle. The cancer is now in my cerebral spinal fluid and I fear, it’s only a matter of time.
I’ve tried a few chemotherapies, but most did seem to work where and the I am on now is hard on my body. I’m now in a wheelchair, slowly losing capability over my body. It’s been, by far, the hardest time of my life and so hard on my family and friends. I’m no longer able to fully and independently take care of myself and I fear it’s only going to get worse. My arms are weaker each day and I know I don’t have much time left.
I am only 28. I’m having an incredibly tough time accepting this disease. I have so much to live for and I am really not ready to leave my family, friends and boyfriend or my two pups. It isn’t fair for anyone to have to suffer. I pray one day, a cure will be found and when that day comes, it will be the happiest day for everyone.
My thanks go to my incredible family and friends for always donating to METAvivor on my behalf and especially my second family, Ralph and Diane Merlo for donating to METAvivor. Research that is funded with these donations may not save my life but it will certainly help men and women in the future and I am forever grateful. #dontignorestageIV