Never give up – there is always hope of recovery as long as there is treatment.

Kristýna Krátká

The first time and it has to be metastatic.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. I was then 32. After my second daughter was born, I was unable to breastfeed her – I had some inflammation in my breast. After puerperium, I went to my gynaecologist with pain in my breast. They sent me for an ultrasound, where they told me it was only inflammation and that I didn’t need to do anything about it. Yet the pain kept getting worse, and spread to my shoulder and chest. I started vomiting, was short of breath, and had a persistent cough. I couldn’t stand it anymore and so requested another examination. After a series of tests they told me I had breast cancer with metastases in my lungs, liver, chest, and shoulder.

It took me a long time to accept the fact that I had cancer. I even thought of jumping off a bridge on the way home from the hospital after my diagnosis. Luckily, my sister had gone with me – she talked me out of it and promised we would fight it together, that I would get treatment, and that the pain would stop. My sister had to tell my husband and parents as I did not want to talk about it at all.

The worst part was the chemotherapy, as it made me feel awful. Yet at the same time I looked forward to it because as the treatment began working, the pain I was suffering started fading.

I underwent six chemotherapy procedures, gynaecology operations, and antihormonal treatment. The metastasis was successfully reduced, and remained visible only on my liver with a size of 7 mm. In February 2020, I learned from a control mammograph that a couple of nodes have remained in my breast. There will be another CT scan to see if my treatment needs to be changed. I am now taking part in a clinical study – it appears that the treatment is working and the metastases are beginning to disappear. I now go for checks every two weeks and a CT every two months.

Help from other patients is very valuable.

At first I did not want to tell anybody about my diagnosis. Yet people gossip and so the news about my illness soon spread around our village. Yet thanks to that I no longer find it difficult to talk about it with strangers. I have even set up a Facebook group dedicated to patients with breast cancer metastasis called Breast Cancer with Metastasis in Both Women and Men. I am grateful that groups like this exist. Their members give me advice and support. We also share our experience from our treatment. It is actually a form of therapy for me, helping me find peace.

My family has been wonderfully supportive throughout my treatment. My husband stayed at home whenever necessary. He listens to me when I am afraid and advises me. I am happy that my mother looks after my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter when I have to go to the oncology department. My mother also encouraged me to quickly sign up for the clinical trial, as there was high demand for it.

Other patients from various Facebook groups also help me a great deal. When I am unsure about any aspect of my treatment, I consult the procedure with other experts.

My favourite ritual is to get up in the morning and go to check on the animals we keep. We purchased rabbits, quails, chickens, and guinea pigs after I became ill. When I look into the rabbit hutch and see the new-born babies, I immediately feel better. I am trying to hatch chickens, have nursed quails, and am now looking forward to them laying eggs. The animals help me keep my mind off other things.

What not to say to a cancer patient

It makes me angry when I hear people say that if we have cancer we won’t be around for much longer anyway. Somebody once even told me, “You haven’t got long left!“

Message to patients

Never give up – there is always hope of recovery as long as there is treatment.

Message to the public

Don’t turn your back on cancer patients. Falling ill with cancer is not the end at all. If you feel a lump or something hurts for some time, see a doctor quickly. I started to deal with it too late.