Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Living with metastatic breast cancer
AUSTIN, Texas - In the last decade, Renee Sendalbach has epxerience more medical setbacks than one person ever should.
11 years ago at the age of 31, Renee was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. About a year later she had a checkup with her doctor.
"I went in and had my scan and i told her i've been having this weird little cough but I'm pretty sure it's just allergies and she said we're going to scan and make sure," Renee says.
Dr. Beth Hellerstedt was Sendelbach's oncologist at Texas Oncology. Dr. Hellerstedt practices at St. David's Round Rock Medical Center now and recalls that Renee had "symptoms and a cough. We did a scan and then cancer had shown up in the lung and in the bone."
"I had I don't even know how many spots in my lungs and then in my bones as well and we biopsied the lungs and it came back as breast cancer that had metastized," Renee says.
Mestatic is Stage 4 breast cancer and is the highest stage there is. There is no cure and sometimes it leads to medical complications which is what happened to Renee.
"We did additional chemotherapy at that time and she had pretty good response until we started to see a series of tumors in the brain," Dr. Hellderstedt says.
Renee says, "so it went breast. Then came back lungs. Bones. Then it moved to the brain and I had the three brain surgeries and then it came back as pre-lukemia in 2016 and that's when I had the bone marrow transplant."
Today Renee is doing "fantastic" and she says her health is much better. She has a blog that chronicles her life.
Renee is happily married, raising a 12-year-old boy and is a successful artist.
"I figured out that doing art was like a complete mind altering experience for me because i could zone out and feel peace and quiet but yet feel like im contributing to the world," Renee says.
And although she will never be rid of the disease Renee will live.
"For many women, treatment, especially some of our newer treatments, have led to longer and longer survival rates and excellent quality of life," Dr. Hellerstedt says.
You can follow Renee's journey here.