Actress Shannen Doherty, 49, is wishing for a “kinder, more tolerant, and more conscious” future as she recently gathered with loved ones for Christmas during her ongoing battle against cancer.Read More
“Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you,” Doherty wrote. “My Christmas wish is for all of us to be kinder, more tolerant and more conscious of our actions and the impact we have on each other and our planet. Love to each and everyone of you. Merry Christmas.”
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What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?
In February, Doherty learned that her breast cancer had returned and spread to other parts of her body. This is known as metastatic breast cancer, and it requires a different treatment outlook than other forms of breast cancer.
“Metastatic breast cancer is a very treatable stage of breast cancer, but it is not a curable stage of breast cancer,” Dr. Erica Mayer, Director of Breast Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, previously told SurvivorNet.
“So we work very hard with all the therapies we have to achieve two main goals. Number one goal, of course, is survival. We want people to live as long as they possibly can. But we also have another important goal, which is quality of life.”
There are a number of promising treatment options that can help you live a longer and better life if you’re facing metastatic breast cancer.
The main course of treatment is genetic sequencing, where doctors will take a sample of your unique genetic code and determine whether you have specific mutations that can be treated with targeted drugs.
Your doctor might also be able to recommend you for new clinical trials that could be effective in fighting your cancer. Having access to these experimental drugs, while possessing an inherent risk, could help you live longer and have a better quality of life, which is why doctors like Dr. Ben Neels, director of NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center, would take this course of action himself.
“If I were a cancer patient with a widely spread metastatic cancer, I would also want to be on a clinical trial,” Dr. Neels previously told SurvivorNet.
If you’re facing this challenging diagnosis, you have reason to hope. Many people live long, happy lives after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Kelly Shanahan would know – she’s facing the disease herself but is determined to prove that the statistics are wrong.
“The one thing I take to heart is that these numbers, they’re not me,” Dr. Shanahan previously told SurvivorNet. “I know what the data is. I know this is a terminal disease, but somebody has to be the exceptional responder.”
Cancer During the Holidays
For many survivors and people currently fighting cancer, the magic of the holidays can be complicated by the difficult realities of cancer.
“People are uncomfortable around cancer, and there’s a lot of fear, ignorance, misunderstandings and myths around it,” breast cancer survivor Diane Mapes previously told SurvivorNet.
For people whose fight is still ongoing, staying positive and focusing on your healing can be a godsend during the sometimes uncomfortable or isolating holiday experiences.
“My advice to others is to stay focused,” Karen Ballou, a Hogkin lymphoma survivor, previously told SurvivorNet. “Stay focused … think about one thing in your life or two things in your life that you can see when you’re well, that you want to go after. And you want to follow through with. That’s what got me through the holidays.”
The Importance of Family
For many people like Doherty who are currently fighting cancer, familial love and support helps them stay positive in the face of daunting medical challenges and inspires them to fight on.
Beverly Reeves, an ovarian cancer survivor, told SurvivorNet that her family, along with support from friends and faith groups, helped her get through treatment. She tells people going through difficult cancer battles to stay connected to their loved ones and the critical support they offer.
“If you’re connected to a faith community, get your faith community, and get your family,” she told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “Let them know what’s going on and let them help you.
Whether it comes from faith, family, community, or another source, strength and positivity are key to overcoming cancer. SurvivorNet‘s medical experts urge those fighting cancer to talk to their doctors and loved ones to develop a support system for their battle.