Reflection and the Road Ahead – Advanced Breast Cancer with Robin Roberts | WebMD

Reflection and the Road Ahead – Advanced Breast Cancer with Robin Roberts | WebMD


ROBIN ROBERTS: Let me tell you, there have been amazing strides in the world of treating breast cancer, and much attention to the success stories. However, many diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease feel overlooked. Theirs are difficult stories of emotional and physical pain, but they can also be stories of love, new found contentment, and yes, joy. Such is the case with Susan Rosen. When Susan Rosen was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at just 45 years old, she found herself being strong for everyone else. SUSAN ROSEN: To be honest with you, everybody else was more upset than me. My friends were more upset. My family was more upset. And I just kept thinking, everything’s going to be OK. ROBIN ROBERTS: At the time, her daughter Michaela was 15. Her son Max, just 11. MAX ROSEN: It was a very different environment in the house. It went from being this just fun loving, everyone’s always happy to, we’re sitting around watching TV. Mom is sleeping for most of the day. And it was tough to watch, an 11-year-old seeing your mom pretty much sick all the time. It’s not easy. ROBIN ROBERTS: Susan’s chemotherapy treatments left her with debilitating side effects. SUSAN ROSEN: My life changed. From the chemotherapy I was sleeping 17 hours a day. I felt awful. I felt very sick. I felt like a terrible mother, and a wife. Couldn’t do anything. They give you decadron. It’s a steroid. And for some chemotherapies you need to be on that. That made me very irritable. MARK ROSEN: Decadragon we call it, decadragon, because she was just very irritable. And yeah, she was not as much fun to be with. SUSAN ROSEN: I was nasty. And I knew I was nasty. ROBIN ROBERTS: Fearful of what was to come, emotions were raw and intense for everyone at home. MICHAELA ROSEN: I was very angry. It just kind of– I remember just saying like, why, this isn’t fair. I went from being sad and like, this changes everything, to just really, really mad. Like, this is not fair. My mom doesn’t deserve this. And I just remember, you know, at 15, you just really want your mom to see you go to prom and to get your driver’s license and to graduate high school. And we didn’t know if that was going to happen. ROBIN ROBERTS: But Susan did recover, and was able to be there for Michaela’s high school graduation. For three years the Rosen family enjoyed normalcy, traveling together, and making each other laugh. Then, the cancer returned, stage IV, metastatic breast cancer. SUSAN ROSEN: And the first thing I did when I got home after hearing about the metastatic diagnosis, I sat on the couch and I started crying. And Mark walked in and I said to him, I’m never going to be a grandmother. That bothers me. ROBIN ROBERTS: Even though she’s been told her cancer is incurable this time, remarkably Susan lives every day with a positive attitude. SUSAN ROSEN: Yahtzee! Sometimes my mind wanders and I go to that dark place, death, and what’s going to happen and all that craziness. And then I come back. I don’t allow myself to stay there. I want to be my normal self. But I have a new normal now. It’s different. ROBIN ROBERTS: Her stage IV diagnosis was three years ago. She continues therapies as long as they help, and then moves on to other treatments when they don’t. In the meantime, she’s passing on some important lessons, like sharing family recipes. SUSAN ROSEN: OK, wait, these are too big. Go half. ROBIN ROBERTS: And she’s been writing legacy books for her children. SUSAN ROSEN: I want to leave a part of me for them. I’ve talked to some people whose parents have passed away. And they’re sad that they never left them anything. ROBIN ROBERTS: She even started a blog documenting her cancer journey called Let Us Be Mermaids. SUSAN ROSEN: Oh I write about how my life is not defined by metastatic breast cancer, because I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a sister. I’m a friend. I’m a person who likes to travel and cook and garden and have fun with her friends, go out. I am so much more than my cancer. ROBIN ROBERTS: And most important, she’s enjoying quality time with her family, finding joy in the most simple aspects of daily life. SUSAN ROSEN: If there’s things I can’t change, I can’t worry about it, because it will stop me from living, especially results from scans. And if the cancer keeps spreading, if I keep dwelling on that, I’m going to be miserable. And I don’t want to be like that. I have a family and I have lots of friends. I want to keep on living and enjoying life.