Hi! I’m Barb Stauff and this is my blog about my favorite books and how they give me hope while fighting my Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. I have been through many life changing moments since November, 2010. That is when I had a mastectomy of my right breast for what I thought was only stage 0 DCIS. I chose this radical surgery because I didn’t want to have to worry about cancer ever again, and I did not want radiation. I awoke from the surgery and listened to my surgeon explain to me that the biopsy was wrong. She discovered a mass near my chest wall that could not be seen on the ultrasound and it was stage 3, with 11 out of 12 lymph nodes cancerous. I saved my life by my choosing to have the mastectomy, but now I was facing chemotherapy, radiation, and then 33 weeks of targeted therapy to slow the growth protein hormone I was positive for called HER2+.
I fought hard that first year and at the end of my treatments, my scans showed I had no evidence of disease and was cancer free! Life was great and I enjoyed a wonderful summer with my family. All that changed on the one year anniversary of my mastectomy. The police came to our door to inform us that my only sister had been murdered by her husband of 20 years. It was the worst thing I ever went through, having to tell my parents, then having to tell my two nephews who were 12 and 15 at the time.
The boys came to live with us and we became a family of 7. It was difficult juggling 5 kids as well as dealing with the drama and greed my ex brother in law’s family was putting us through. My cancer came back a month after my sister died. It was in many of my lymph nodes in my neck, collar bone, and a large tumor in my underarm which damaged the nerves in my right arm and crippled my hand.
I finished another set of oral chemo and a new targeted therapy and once again was cancer free. Living with boys is very different than the 3 girls I had and was used too. Trying to stay stress free which my oncologist wanted me to do was becoming hard. My younger nephew had mental issues that were becoming more apparent as the weeks went by. Nothing we did helped him. He told Counselors and Dr.’s exactly what they wanted to hear. In the end, he became a danger to my two youngest daughters and it was decided that he would go to live with his aunt and uncle in Virginia.
Life became easier but nothing seemed to keep my cancer at bay for very long. In March of 2015, I went for my routine 6 month brain MRI. I was shocked to find I had a very small tumor on my cerebellum, which was one of two best places to get a brain tumor. I had pin point radiation surgery and two months later my scan showed it was gone. There was another spot in the frontal lobe which was the second best place to have a tumor. I was afraid that this was going to become a pattern and soon it would be uncurable. However, when my neurosurgeon compared the two scans he pointed out a faint shadow on the first scan that was the tumor I had now. I radiated that little sucker and have been clear since May.
Reading became my escape. In books, I could pretend I didn’t have cancer or a messed up family, or an upcoming murder trial I would have to testify at. The time I spent reading helped me heal from my treatments, and healed my soul. It’s funny how books can do that!
I always wanted to be a writer but never thought I could do it. Facing the fact that you won’t grow old gives you a kick in the butt to accomplish the things on your bucket list. I had many ideas and began writing a novel three months ago.
This blog will be about books, my writing process, and my journey with breast cancer. I will be reviewing books and I encourage any authors, new or old to allow me to read your latest and I will review it here on my blog. Only positive comments will be posted as this is not a hate site and all negative comments will be deleted. I look forward to hearing from you.