'Every treatment gives me more time with my kids': Living with stage 4 breast cancer

Yifat Aharoni, a mother of 3, has chosen life: She understands that, despite the pain, each treatment allows her to celebrate another birthday another bar mitzvah and another school ceremony with her children

Yifat Aharoni|
"You will receive biological treatments, and they will give you a few more years to live" – these words that my first oncologist once said to me echo in my head to this day. I remember being unable to cope with that statement. What did "a few more years" mean? Am I going to die?
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
More stories:
It all started about nine years ago after I gave birth to my third child, and a few months later a lump was discovered in my breast. Cancer, they told me. I went through all the treatments: chemotherapy, surgery, radiation. I did whatever was necessary, and I healed. I went on with my life, trying to put that period behind me.
2 View gallery
יפעת אהרוני
יפעת אהרוני
Yifat Aharoni with her children
And then the COVID-19 pandemic came along. While everyone was preoccupied with the unknown disease, I was suffering from severe back pain, which got to a point where I couldn't walk upright anymore. It turned out that my medical condition had worsened significantly, and my entire spine was filled with metastases. I was moments away from paralysis. Since then, for over three years, I have been dealing with metastatic (Stage 4) breast cancer.
Finding out that the cancer had returned was tough for me. For months, I felt like I was living in a dark pit, sinking deeper and deeper into it. I prayed not to wake up in the morning. Every day, I woke up in tears, not wanting to go on anymore, until one morning I told myself, I am choosing life. I have three kids (my oldest is now 16, the middle child is 12, and the youngest is 8), and every day I fight anew for the privilege of being with them. I have so much more to do and experience with them. My battle is tough, but I have no intention of giving up.
"Sometimes I feel like going out for coffee with a friend or doing yoga, and sometimes I don't feel well and stay in bed. The ability to choose how to live and what makes me feel good is a fundamental change in my life, and I learned it thanks to cancer."
Last year, I decided to take an unpaid leave from my job as a teacher. The profession was consuming a lot of my time and energy, and I decided that I wanted to dedicate this time to myself and my own children. I wanted to be the one serving them a warm lunch when they came home from school and be there for them if one of the kids woke up feeling down in the morning, to stay home together and have fun. I put an end to the after-hours parent phone calls, and made myself fully available for whatever my children needed. When my kids said, "Mom, it's so nice that you're here," it was a tremendous victory for me. I felt that I had done the right thing.

Self-rediscovery - choosing myself

Yes, there are tough days, and anxiety is sometimes overwhelming, but every day I choose myself and my children all over again. I brought a dog home to keep me company when I'm alone and to force me to leave the house. Every morning, I wake up and decide what to do based on how I feel: Sometimes I feel like going out for coffee with a friend or doing yoga, and sometimes I don't feel well and stay in bed. The ability to choose how to live and what makes me feel good is a fundamental change in my life, and I learned it thanks to cancer. So, good things also happen in this process. I learned and rediscovered myself.
A year after deciding to take a break, I decided not to go back to work and, instead, offer private lessons as a certified instructor to sustain myself financially. Everything depends on my current state, because daily life is not always easy. When a regular person doesn't feel well, he or she takes a pill, but when I don't feel well, it can lead me to a state of anxiety attacks where I can't even breathe. Every little pain, in my perspective, is something lethal, the end.
2 View gallery
יפעת אהרוני
יפעת אהרוני
Yifat Aharoni has undergone three courses of treatment for her cancer
I have already undergone three treatments. The first one helped for about a year, and then the metastases found a way around it and developed immunity. Then I moved on to the second treatment and then to the third. Each treatment gives me more time and more hope because living with metastatic breast cancer means living each day as it comes, saying thank you, and appreciating the smallest things in life. It means looking at my children and hoping to make it to their school graduation parties, enlistments and weddings.
When my oldest son celebrated his bar mitzvah, I was feeling healthy, and the aliyah to the Torah greatly moved me. Now I'm eagerly waiting for my middle son's bar mitzvah in November. This milestone holds tremendous significance for me. Everything I get to experience marks another enormous victory. Even in the graduation ceremonies of the children this year, I was deeply moved because I don't take it for granted that I got to be there. Now my oldest son is learning to drive. Getting a driver's license is a significant step in his life, and I want to be there with him and for him.
"The hardest thing for me right now is planning my youngest son's birthday in October. He has already prepared a guest list, and it breaks me because who knows what will happen to me by then. Only in August will I know if the current treatment is effective."
In the midst of all of this, the hardest thing for me right now is planning my youngest son's birthday in October. He has already prepared a guest list, and it breaks me because who knows what will happen to me by then. Only in August will I know if the current treatment is effective, and my thoughts race ahead. How do I explain to my child why this list terrifies me so much?
I live with daily fear. I don't know when the treatment will stop working, and how much time I have left to live. But every treatment also gives me more time and a lot of hope. It gives me another day and another day with my kids, and I am grateful for these days. I also have no intention of breaking down. New treatments are being developed in the meantime, and I hope that if I need them I will receive them. For now, I feel that the good I experience outweighs all the pain. I also try to believe that, in the end, after everything, I will conquer cancer.
Comments
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.
""