Staring Down Cancer

Letting go: Reflecting on the prospect of a healthier new year

Shutterstock/Petar Paunchev

 (Shutterstock/Petar Paunchev)

Happy New Year! I have been absent since just prior to the holidays. In December, I had developed pain under my right breast, and I thought I may have broken a rib after helping my parents move. 

My CT scan indicated a mass on the rib. Here we go again. I have been living with Stage 4 metastatic cancer for 13 years. The breast cancer moved to my bones 11 years ago and then to my liver. I am currently participating in a clinical trial that has been keeping the cancer in check.  

After several rounds of different chemo regimens, I was fortunate to get into a study using a new trial drug. I have been very lucky. The trial drug agrees with me and has stopped the cancer from growing in my liver. It's not any smaller, but it's not any larger. That's a win.

When doctors discovered the mass on my rib, I was grateful it wasn't in my liver. If you have only one area affected in the bone, it can usually be treated with radiation. In my case, they decided to try cryoablation, which freezes the cancer cells to make them die. Under general anesthesia, they inserted two probes under the breast, into the rib, and, "Zap!" (My informed medical description.) It worked. It's been three weeks since the procedure, and the area is still swollen and sore, but the doctors are certain it worked. A CT scan in two weeks will confirm the results. I'm a believer.  

My household experienced many medical emergencies last year, and I am praying for an emergency-free 2015. Earlier this year, while entering a cab in New York, my husband was thrown into the air and on the street (my daughter had just entered the taxi when the driver took off). His ankle was broken in six places, requiring surgery with plates and screws. Oy.

My son developed a cyst in his neck, which doctors first thought was a swollen lymph node. In 4 months, it grew to the size of a baseball. It became infected overnight, and he was in surgery the next day. Nerve-wracking is how I describe 2014!

So far, 2015 is looking good. We are 15 days in, and we are all healthy. Praise the Lord. The moral of the story is that you cannot allow a cancer scare to take over your life. You pray, and, if you believe you have the best doctor in the world (as I do), you have to let go. It's difficult to do, and even harder to do when your husband or child is going under the knife!

"What's it all about, Alfie?" What's it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie … the secret of life and of the universe? I love hearing from you. Please let me know if you have it all figured out. Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2015.

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Noreen can be contacted via email at