My name is Kristin Todd and I am 34-years young. In July of 2013, I was 32 and 34 weeks pregnant with our first child. My husband, Brian, had pointed out a lump in my breast to me and I brought it to the attention of the OB-GYN during one of my routine pregnancy checks.
This first doctor essentially blew off my concerns, telling me I was too young for breast cancer and regardless, they wouldn’t do anything about it until after the baby was born. Wrong on BOTH counts. Being in the medical field myself (I am a nurse practitioner), I didn’t accept this answer. I brought the lump to the attention of my regular OB-GYN who shared my concern and got me in right away for an ultrasound and biopsy. My husband and I were stunned into silence when we received the news that I had invasive ductal carcinoma (ER/PR+ and HER2-). I was tested for the BRCA mutations and was negative.
From that point forward, it was a mad dash to see doctors and make decisions quickly both for myself and for our unborn child. I went ahead and at 36 weeks pregnant, I had a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection. The day after my surgery, I was readmitted to the hospital with a kidney stone. A week following my surgery, at 37 weeks, I was induced and gave birth to our beautiful, healthy baby boy, Logan Kristopher. Three days after giving birth, I had my port placed for chemotherapy and had my first PET scan which delivered devastating news…liver and bone metastases. I was crushed and was at a loss for how to feel. I was supposed to be enjoying my first days of motherhood.
A week after my son was born, I began chemotherapy. I had 6 rounds of A/C chemotherapy which put me into NED status (no evidence of disease). Since then, I had my ovaries removed (because of my hormone positive cancer) and am now post-menopausal. I had a recurrence in my bones in the summer of 2014 and received radiation to a spot on my rib and a spot on my T-spine. I enjoyed NED status for a little while longer when I had another recurrence in my liver in the Fall of 2015. I just finished my 4th round of Doxil chemotherapy and will have a scan in late January to hopefully show the resolution of my liver mets. In the Fall of 2015, I also had extensive genetic testing done at UCSF which found that I have the CHEK2 gene mutation which increases the risk of breast cancer, similar to the BRCA gene mutations.
People have asked me how I coped with having a newborn and doing my first chemo treatments. I had amazing family support. My dad is a family physician in Florida and he has been a huge help when it comes to getting the best information and care out there. Without him, I would not have the benefit of several expert opinions whenever there is a decision to be made.
My mother retired from her job in Georgia and moved out to California right away when I was diagnosed and my mother-in-law (also from Georgia) dropped everything to come help. So between the two moms and my husband, they took care of the night feedings so I could get lots of sleep. My sister, cousin, and friends also took turns flying out from the southeast to help in any way they could.
I’m slowly getting use to my “new reality” as I like to call it. Life with Stage IV breast cancer is a roller coaster. My family and I live for the good news and support each other with any bit of not-so-good news.
But overall, my son is the absolute light of my life and the best motivation for doing everything I can to stay well and healthy for him. I so believe in the power of the mind and I have so much love and support around me along with my own positive outlook that I know I can get through most anything.