Updated: Oct 20, 2020
By Silke Pflueger,
It’s late summer in 2013. I’m 48. Having drinks with my man and a friend. They talk shop. My thoughts drift. Until they stop drifting. My fingers feel something that doesn’t belong there. I race into the bathroom, and yes, there is a hard mass in my left boob.
Doctor’s appointment the next morning.
They find a place that takes me for a mammogram that afternoon.
Need ultrasound, too.
Ultrasound says that I need a biopsy, and I smooth talk my way into a biopsy that same afternoon.
The phone call comes a few days later.
There are a lot of foreign words. Hormone positive. HER2 negative. More words. Colors become technicolor around me.
I opt for a double mastectomy. Two lymph nodes involved. Onco score is low, so I opt for no chemo. Tamoxifen for a year, then chemically induced menopause and Arimidex.
I’ll be fine. It won’t be me. I got this.
Fast forward. It’s late summer of 2019. We are in Germany for work. My sciatic nerve has been a problem half my life, but it’s incredibly bad on this trip. I can barely walk. Everything hurts. Laying down. Sitting. Standing. Walking. Everything hurts so bad. I go to an ER. X-Ray shows the usual herniated disk, but the doc says it’s not bad enough for the pain I feel, and recommends I get an MRI when I’m back home.
We are back home. I see my GP, get an MRI, go back to her. MRI says something about large lesion in sacrum. I have no idea what that means. All I know is that my back still hurts. My GP hugs me. Shit, I think. She doesn’t hug me unless it’s cancer related. I ask a little more. Will have to do a biopsy to find out. But it likely is. I walk out numb.
I manage to snag an appointment for a biopsy the day before I travel back to Europe for a week in Athens with my mom. Biopsy confirms my cancer has spread to my bones, and I’m now metastatic. Dr. Google says it’s somewhere around a 25% chance that I’ll live 5 years.
WHY ME? I have so much more living to do.
Why me? That’s the question so many of us ask throughout this journey. Why me? I’ve lived a healthy life. I eat healthier than 90% of people I know. Why me? I have slight weight issues, but nothing bad. Why me? I love working out. Show me a mountain and I’ll hike up or bike up or ski down. Why me?
The short answer is that we don’t know. My dad’s side of the family seems to have a lot of breast cancer, but we are a pretty small family. No genes that point to breast cancer - yet.
“Why me?” is a question a lot of us ask, but very few of us have answers. Since I can’t answer it, I’ve settled on “It is what it is, and I’ll live the best life in the time I have left.” I suggest you do, too.
Silke is a laser engineer, lover of the outdoors, foodie, and recent American. She was first diagnosed with early breast cancer in 2013. After a year of never ending, but not unusual sciatic nerve pain she found out that it was a metastasis in her sacrum that was pressing on the nerve, and not the slipped disk that had caused her a lifetime of back pain. She tries to keep on smiling, helped by antidepressants and being outdoors as much as possible, all to enjoy the time she has left.