At the age of 27, Allie Vreeland went to see her doctor because of a lump on her chest. She was assured it was probably nothing, but they did an ultrasound and a biopsy just in case.
Sadly, however, the young BRCA-positive Allie was diagnosed with invasive ER-positive breast cancer. She immediately opted for a double-mastectomy and reconstruction to make her breasts feel “normal” again. But all the poking and prodding and tests and hospital robes quickly proved to her that they would never feel like normal breasts again.
Allie handled treatment well and was declared cancer-free, but she was re-diagnosed a year later at the age of 28.
“Cancer woke me up, but then it really woke me up the second time,” she says.
This time she had stage-four cancer that had metastasized to her liver, which meant she would live the rest of her life hopping from treatment to treatment to prolong her life.
“When you’re initially diagnosed with like stage one or stage two, it’s like, ‘Okay, I can get through this, and maybe I’ll never get cancer again,’ and that’s the hope. But at this point, that’s it. What’s my life going to look like now?”
150,000 women in the United states are living with metastatic breast cancer. The average stage-four breast cancer patient lives only about three years.
Allie lamented the fact that metastatic breast cancer research only receives about two percent of the overall funding provided for breast cancer research. Luckily, she said, the fact the women are dying every day from this underfunded disease has really pushed people to get the word out in recent years.
In the video below, Allie shared her story of trying out different treatments with the knowledge that they could end up not having any effect.
Unfortunately, after about a year and a half living with metastatic breast cancer, Allie passed away.
As sad as her tale is, this brave young woman’s unique perspective on life is something we all need to witness.
See Allie’s scars and hear more of her story in the video below.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?