Breast Cancer, a Convertible, and a Zest for Life

By Meg McCormick

When I learned I had a stage 4 breast cancer, I decided not let it rob me of the opportunities to enjoy my life. I still have a physically active, socially engaged lifestyle, and if you have metastatic breast cancer, so can you.

I was first diagnosed in 2004, and had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. I continued on hormonal medications for five years, and two years later, my cancer came back.

Meg McCormick, far right, with her “rocks.” Left to right are her nurse Jennifer McKenna, her sister Maura, and her wife Carla.

I consulted Eric Winer, MD, one of the leaders in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, and in January 2012, began treatment at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center [DF/BWCC]. Seeing a world-famous oncologist helped ease my mind. An added bonus was the chance to reconnect with nurse practitioner Jennifer McKenna, RN, MSN, AOCNP, who had provided my care eight years earlier, when I was treated at another Boston hospital. Jen had moved to DF/BWCC in 2008.

Jen is one of my three rocks. The other two are my wife, Carla Osberg, and my twin sister Maura, who moved from California to be near me.

I visit DF/BWCC regularly for hormonal therapy to combat the estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer that has spread to my bones. My treatment includes Letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor.

I have several fun ways of traveling the mile and a half from my house in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood to my appointments at DF/BWCC. I walk, bicycle, or drive my sporty black convertible with the top down. Even on a cold winter day, I just turn on the heat and warm the seats!

Between treatments Carla and I take trips, entertain friends, and enjoy athletic activities. We like to have fun. We visit Carla’s parents in California, and we frequently visit Provincetown and other Cape Cod havens.

I’m a union journeyman carpenter and I did have to leave my job as a home energy auditor. The physical demands were too intense. But I still offer home improvement advice to friends and family members.

Of course I have moments of apprehension but I am eager to embrace the chance for a quick laugh or a new adventure. If you’re always down in the dumps, always woe-is-me, it’s not going to help you. You have to have a good attitude.