‘There is life after diagnosis’: Local metastatic breast cancer survivor shares message of hope

Health

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Also known as Stage 4 or MBC, metastatic cancer is referred to the disease that spreads to other parts of the body.

Pat Battaglia, a Stage 4 survivor and associate program director at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, believes research for this stage of cancer is essential.

“Research into this stage of the disease is absolutely vital because this is the fatal form of the disease,” Battaglia said. “People don’t die from early stage breast cancer, they die when it spreads beyond the breast into other areas of the body.”

Andrea Reynolds, a #LightUpMBC ambassador, was first diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at age 31. Then, two years ago she was diagnosed with Stage 4 and is currently living with the disease.

She said having young children has made facing the diagnosis especially challenging.

“I think the emotional impact is the hardest,” Reynolds said. “I just feel so much pressure to teach them everything and try to enjoy every moment.”

Reynold’s children are ages 9 and 12. Their entire childhood has been affected by her diagnoses.

“When you try to enjoy every moment you remember why you’re trying to enjoy every moment,” Reynold said. “It’s just complicated back and forth of wanting to be joyful, but living in fear of ‘what if this is the last Christmas?’ ‘What if this is the last birthday?'”

Battaglia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2004. After nearly 15 years cancer-free, she was preparing to celebrate the anniversary.

Then, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in March of 2019.

“It was a very different sort of acknowledgment of that anniversary,” Battaglia said. “When one line fails, you move on and hopefully are able to manage this for a long time,” said Battaglia.

Treatment for metastatic breast cancer varies by person. The goal is always to prevent the cancer from spreading further.

On top of medical treatment, Battaglia and Reynolds emphasized the importance of community support.

“I knew the power of connection with people who are on a similar path,” Battaglia said.

Because she has worked at the Coalition for over a decade, she knew what resources to turn to — like the Coalition’s metastatic breast cancer group.

“I had these resources here at the Coalition who live with this diagnosis, and admire them. They’re just some of my favorite people,” Battaglia said.

Reynolds is part of the Coalition’s group as well. She said for anyone who is newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to, “take time to grieve. But, also know that there is life after diagnosis and you can live with this disease. You’re not just dying from the disease.”

In honor of Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, the Legacy Tower and The Nathaniel are among the buildings lighting up in the awareness colors of green, teal and pink. A virtual #LightUpMBC livestream is taking place on October 13 at 8:30 p.m. to raise money for metastatic breast cancer research.

Additionally, The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester is hosting a virtual seminar on metastatic breast cancer from 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. on October 13. Registration is free and available until the start of the seminar.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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