Mooresville, NC - Lisa Oxidine, 49, has been living with terminal cancer for three years. The mother of three recently sat down with Fox 46 News to tell her story and hopefully raise awareness of advanced breast cancer.
Oxidine was just 32 years old when she felt pain in one breast. She said the first doctor she went to told her she was too young to have breast cancer. Since she didn't have any family history of breast cancer, he said she should come back in six months to have it checked out. Oxidine said her dad insisted she get a second opinion.
A few weeks later, she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. It had spread to her lymph nodes. At the time, she told her oncologist she wanted to see all of her sons graduate high school.
"They were so little and they were so good," Oxidine recalled. "We told them that mommy's going to be extremely sick and you're going to have to be quiet. You can't fight with each other, you have to get along."
Oxidine fought hard, however, undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy. For more than a decade, she was alright, but in 2012 Oxidine said she realized she wasn't well.
"I couldn't breathe very well and I thought it's something with my lungs and my heart," Oxidine said. "The breast cancer when I was diagnosed the second time was considered Stage IV, terminal."
Oxidine said the breast cancer had spread to her lungs, heart, liver and bones and it was HER2-positive, which grows and spreads quickly. Her youngest son was still months from high school graduation; Oxidine's oncologist remembered her goal.
"He would just not let me accept that this was not going to work. He just told me, he said, 'We're just going to do this again like we did before,'" Oxidine remembered.
Advanced breast cancer is incurable, but with advances in research, more people are living with it--treating it as a chronic condition.
Oxidine has been undergoing maintenance chemotherapy every few weeks for the past three years. She had to switch to a new treatment this summer when doctors discovered her cancer had once again spread.
Survival rates vary. According to the National Cancer Institute, some women may live 10 years past their initial diagnosis with advanced breast cancer.
Oxidine still works every day, is active in raising awareness about breast cancer, and travels as often as possible. She admits living with cancer is hard, but being able to experience more makes it worth it.
"The second time I was diagnosed, I did not think I had much of a chance. Honestly, I wasn't sure it was really worth doing that horrible fight again, but I'm so glad I did because the last three years have been amazing," she told Fox 46.