People and Culture
Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer: Esther’s Decades-Long Journey
Stories@Gilead - October 05, 2023 - 1 min read
As a career service member in the Navy and a travel enthusiast, Esther was an active young mother of three when she discovered a lump in her breast. It turned out to be HR+/HER2- breast cancer, a common form of the disease that accounts for about 70% of all new breast cancer cases. Esther was devastated when she received the news – but hopeful.
“I remember just thinking, ‘Okay, I'll do this treatment, the radiation and the 33 days,’” says Esther who was 33 when she was diagnosed. “‘And hopefully, I'll be able to put it behind me.’”
For the next two and a half decades, however, Esther cycled through multiple treatments. She worked hard to minimize the impact cancer had on her daily life from raising her children and maintaining her Navy career.
“For my kids, they've never known Mom or remember Mom without having cancer,” says Esther. “The goal for me has always been minimizing the impact so I'm not spending all of my time just dealing with the cancer – because life is more than cancer.”
Twenty-five years after first being diagnosed, Esther received more devastating news. The cancer became metastatic and had spread throughout her body.
Though her future is uncertain, her focus is now on savoring moments with loved ones. “The extra time means just being able to create more memories for my grandkids, my kids, my family and my friends,” Esther says. “And I think any of us when it really comes down to it, that's what we're looking for. We're looking for more time to spend with those that we love."
Watch the video above to see Esther’s full story.