Bridget Spence knows she wants children. But she doesn’t dare to even dream of it. The 25-year-old has Stage IV breast cancer.
One day four years ago, Spence felt a lump in her breast. She saw a doctor, who checked her breast and assured her that it was nothing to worry about.
“But when I graduated six months later, the lump was protruding from my breast, and my parents told me I looked yellow,” recalls Spence, a fit yoga-fan with no family history of breast cancer. “So I went to a different doctor. He told me that I had Stage IV breast cancer that it had spread to the liver.”
Spence was given a 16 per cent chance of surviving until age 30.
“At first I was very angry at having been misdiagnosed and wondered ‘why me?’” she tells Metro. “But then I thought ‘I’ll show you! I’ll be one of the 16 per cent’!” Four years later, Spence is still alive. She even has a full-time job.
But she knows the disease may still defeat her.
“Cancer is a roller-coaster,” she explains. “There are bad days and good days, where I think I can be among the 16 per cent. I look healthy and you would never know that I go to chemo (chemotherapy) every day. But I have this demon in me.”
The worst days come every three months, when Spence undergoes a scan to see if the tumor has grown.
“Then I turn off the phone and go into survival mode,” she says. “If it’s good news I go on a little shopping spree afterwards.”
Spence, who lives in Boston, Mass., recently got married. With Spence’s life proceeding in three-month increments, she and her now-husband didn’t want to wait.
“But I don’t allow myself to think about children,” she says. Instead she travels to educate young women about breast cancer.
“People think that only old people get cancer, or that cancer patients are bald,” she explains. “I have a responsibility to tell people my story.”