My Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor Story

My Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor Story

I have made it through Y2 (year 2) of my new adventure - living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. I continue to reflect on the positive, priceless experiences that have been created through my adventure of living with MBC.  Shortly after my diagnosis, I began making sure I take pictures to ensure I capture these experiences (If you are reading this you may wish I didn't get so excited about taking photos, as there a LOT of them)! As I said last year, my doctors’ orders on our fist meeting were: “our job is to find solutions to fight your cancer.  Your job is to trust us and go live your life fully.”  


Let’s see how I did in Y2 on living my life fully:

January: The year started off doing my favorite thing – being with family (even better outside exercising)!.  We had our first annual New Years Day hike with Tom and the boys, many of my brothers & sisters & their kids and Toms brother & sister and my nephew Patrick.  It was the best way to start the New Year!


February: Tom, Will and I went to Notre Dame for "Senior Parents Weekend" and to visit Cavan on his birthday.   It is always such a great trip to visit the campus, see the kids and their parents, and have time at the beautiful spiritual Grotto!

One of my favorite things that happens in the winter season is setting up the infamous Finigan backyard hockey rink.  It wasn’t the coldest winter but the Finigan boys and their RL friends will make sure the rink get used no matter what!  Sad to say that with all the boys off to college the rink has left 1455 Canton Ave this winter and is being moved to Duncan’s backyard at Bowdoin!

March:  Tom and I went to Florida to watch RL baseball (Will was manager)  play at Wide World of Sports and Bowdoin Baseball (Duncan is a pitcher)  play during Spring Training.

Then came home to celebrate our annual Holy Thursday Paschal Dinner with the Driscoll family at my brother Dan’s house this year.  This is always a very special tradition we have carried on since my parents passed away.

April:  April was a very special month this year around the Boston Marathon.  OOFOS founders decided to make an incredibly generous donation to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team of 590 runners: give all the runners a pair of OOFOS - as OOFOS and the DFMC Team have a lot in common.   The DFMC Team run the Boston Marathon to raise money for research to find a cure for cancer. Our mission statement at OOFOS is to make yOO feel better! Finding a cure for all cancers will make people all over the world feel better.  Wearing OOFOS when not training make the runners feet and bodies feel better.  Also, OOFOS has taken a bold stand to be a part of finding a cure for all breast cancers by donating $10 of every pair of shoes sold in our Project Pink collection to breast cancer research at DFCI.  We all have a common bond - working hard to find a cure!  I was astounded at how grateful everyone of the DFMC team members were.  They made a banner that brought me to tears. Many of the DFMC Team members came by the OOFOS booth.  I wish I could share all of the photos but there are just too many!

May: Another Finigan graduates from college.  Notre Dame's graduation weekend was an amazing time!  With all the fun he was having, were surprised to hear Cavan announced as a Suma Cum Laude graduate and honored with the XXX Finance Award at graduation!  We will miss ND football games and our visits with the Blessed Mother at the Grotto!

Also in May I joined my doctor, Eric Winer, in the Dana-Farber Voices Podcast Series.  I feel so privilaged to be asked to support efforts to help others affected by MBC by sharing my experiences.

Voices Podcast – Episode #2: Living Well with ‘Chronic’ Breast Cancer

Shortly after she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, Duncan Finigan met with her oncologist, Eric Winer, MD, at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber.  

Duncan and her husband snowshoeing.Duncan and her husband snowshoeing

June:  Our FINAL high school graduation happened in June.  Will was our third and last Roxbury Latin graduation!  Another great celebration with the 4 boys.  We will miss RL!

July: We moved our annual week on the Vineyard from August to the week of the 4th of July.  We trained for the PMC together in addition to having a ton of fun with family and friends.  Was awesome to have the Rabbits come down and stay on the 4th!  Memories are priceless!


Upon our return from the Vineyard we went back to our tradition that started 16 years ago, which is handing out water and snacks to the AVON39 walkers who come by our house.  Last year I walked with my OOFOS buddies, Lou and Lily.  We decided this year to focus our breast cancer fundraising on the Pan Mass Challenge, so the Finigan's went back to being there to support the walkers as they came by.

We ended July moving Cavan to NYC with some ND buddies - Sean and Benson.

August: The Pan Mass Challenge finally arrived.  The training all spring and summer together as a family was as great as the ride itself.  Cavan was our support crew for our long rides since he was in NYC working during the ride.  The PMC is a prime example of what a powerful force in my life my cancer adventure has become.  Bringing family and friends from all over together to donate and/or ride to work towards our common goal -find a cure for breast cancer.  I don't plan to ever stop riding!  I thank Eric and Terry (my doctor and brother) for suggesting this and bringing my family and friends onto Eric's Team - WOW. 

Right after the PMC we headed to Chatham to celebrate our oldest brother Dan's 60th Birthday weekend with brothers, sisters and kids!  It was awesome!

I won't be including too much OOFOS events in this even thought the bulk of my days and weekends are intertwined with OOFOS.  Next year maybe I'll have more pictures in my own library.  This one was a fun one as we launched the new OOFOS Recovery Lounge booth at Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.  After a lot of work by a lot of people, it was great to see the brand come to life at a whole new level!

August ended with dropping the youngest Finigan off at college for freshman year. It was great dropping off in Cambridge - no long drives, no plane flights...and we get to go visit when we miss Will!


September: I was featured on Inside Insights Podcast to talk about OOFOS' success in leading the Recovery Footwear Category as well as share my cancer story.  Again, these chances to use my voice to raise awareness of the need for funding for research feels so rewarding.

(Click picture for link)

Also in September we did our fist Cambridge Classic 5K - the Fall Cambridge Classic.  My niece Tori organized Team Tito with family and friends.  The best part was dragging Will out of his dorm room at 8:00 am to run with us.  I think the free beer for 2 1/2 hours after the run might have been a big motivating factor!

October: OOFOS had a tent at the O2X Rise Higher Challenge at Loon and Tom and I decided to jump in and do the challenge.  During the expo hours Deb, Edie and I did a run up the "steep incline" in front of us with our OOFOS.  My phone died so you didn't see us yelling at the top of the ledge "feel the OO"!  Thanks to Deb for supporting me on leaving her working the tent so I could do the challenge with Tom.  It was a great event run by a great company -O2X!   I also bumped into to "young men" who are some of my dearest friends boys - Dan and Joseph (maybe a 5th Finigan son).  We plan to keep doing it each year - and my boys have said they want to join in as well.   Rise Higher!!!

In October I had the chance to hook up with two different friends I haven't seen in at least 30 years.  Glenn Reed and I reconnected from our BC days (1982 grad) over FB, and he reached out to say he was in Boston and Tom & I met Glenn for dinner. Then I was at Bowdoin's parents weekend and bumped into Meg Smiley (who I waitressed with in highschool and college during the summers) at a breakfast diner in Brunswick! Her daughter is a junior at Bowdoin with Duncan. Now we are all active FB friends! Got to love social media!

Eric, my doctor, and I were featured on IHeart Radio and Fearless Fabulous You Podcast about living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.

(Click picture to listen)

OOFOS made it's debut at the Chicago Marathon Expo with our friends from Naperville Running Company.  We met several runners from the DFMC team from Boston at the booth.  It's awesome to see what a small world it is.  And great to see how the brand can keep making people feel better no matter where we go!

November: We went to our 1st Harvard/Yale game.  It lived up to it's reputation! Looking forward to the 2018 game!

Had a great day hiking with my brother Mark and his daughter Kelsie

Did the annual Turkey Trot with lots of family and friends.  Was awesome that all 4 Finigan boys rallied for the 8:00 bell on Thanksgiving morning!

We had the post Thanksgiving Turkey Frying party at Betsy and Bob's house. The boys decided to take over and fry their 1st turkey!

Y2 is completed!  November is special month as it is my "anniversary" month from my first diagnosis which is perfect as it is the month of Giving Thanks!  Shortly after I was diagnosed I spoke at the Dana-Farber Executive Council for Women Breakfast Fundraiser in April of 2015.  I used the analogy of snowshoes as I described what my cancer team at Dana-Farber represented to me.  I saw them as my snowshoe cleats. They are my cleats as they allow me on my snowshoe adventures to be able to be out snowshoeing with full effort, enjoying the moments fully - as the cleats are doing the hard work protecting me from falling and keeping my feet on the ground.  During the tough parts of a snowshoe workout, I have to trust the cleats to do their job or I will surely fall and get hurt. Last year at my first anniversary of living with MBC in November 2015, I bought 2 pair of snow shoes for my DFCI team.  They each received 1/2 pair.  Each 1/2 pair represents 5 years.  When we hit 5 years after my team has been "doing their job to find solutions to fight my cancer from growing" they get the other 1/2 pair, and a new 1/2 pair to start another 5 years of them continuing to be my cleats and do the hard work to protect me from falling and allow me to keep living my life with full effort out on the trails of life!  We officially signed off that we made it to Y2 of our adventure together at my November monthly appointment.  This team is now an extended part of the Finigan family and I am so grateful to have them in our family!  We all agreed that they will expect to have at least 2 full pairs of snowshoes from me!  I plan to be here when we find a cure which means Eric and Jen will be handing out pairs of snow shoes to family and friends,  and then they will be stuck with me as a family member for a lot longer than they planned!

2015 Photo - Y1

2016 Photo - Y2

December:  I shouldn't be writing in December as I was supposed to have this done for Thanksgiving.  It has taken longer than I thought - as my new hobby of picture taking has extended this year's blog.  I think I'll have to take a few vacation days in 2017 to get this completed!  Of course December is a great month as we gear up for Jesus' birth on Christmas Day.   Maybe I will move the date until end of December!

Team Tito completed 2nd Cambridge Classic 5K, the Winter Classic.  It was a blast! Once again we dragged Will out of his dorm room.  This time it did take about 4 calls outside his dorm for him to answer the phone, but he did rally and made the start! And even ran with his Santa hat on while Alec wore the Elf costume!

Then of course the fantastic family holidays.  

It started with the annual tradition of the Driscoll girls (sisters and sister-in-laws) getting together for nails and dinner.

Christmas Eve at Terry and Peggy's gets better and better every year.  You never know what they will do. This year they added a photo booth to the kids gift swap and the adult "bring something from home you want to get rid of" yankee swap.  I never think I can laugh so hard, but each year I think I laugh harder and harder.  The 21 cousins hanging out together all night is also awesome.  


This Christmas day we did it differently and I can say it might have been one of the best.  Nanny and Grampy (tom's parents) are getting older.  Nanny is 95 and Grampy is 90.  We decided to bring Christmas dinner to their house in Lynn.  To keep it simple and not tire them out we did paper goods, a simple meal and a lot of love and laughs. It beat all expectations!  I wish I had more pictures to show the fun we had!

And I am happy to say my final picture for the 2016 is how I started the year.  Tom, I and the boys went for a hike up the Blue Hills before Cavan went back to NYC!  

Let’s see how I did this past year living my life fully in Y2:

WOW.  Once again when I look back I’d say I followed my doctor’s orders and have been “living my life fully!” I'd say I beat last year which I didn't think was possible!

And I'm so thankful for everything and everyone who made it possible!

  • I’m thankful for my amazing family team at Dana-Farber - Eric and Jen (and Liz in the Infusion area)  and the entire Dana-Farber community that is working tirelessly on fighting and curing MBC cancer so myself and all others can keep “living my life fully”.   I have so much respect for them - they are an extended part of our family.  Eric and Jen are stuck with me for life as they are family now!
  • I’m thankful for OOFOS.  Our brand and our company is a way of life.  We are making such an impact to consumers lives feeling better and the business world by bringing a whole new category of footwear to the market with a new technology.  It's pretty awesome that the small group of us are making this happen.  Most people get up every day and “have to go to work”.  I get up every day with OOFOS being a career for me, a part of my life. It’s because of the people on the team and those we work with-in our business first.   Then it’s because of the amazing product we have that is delivering on our mission statement: making yOO feel better!  (ps, yes I have those traditional "bad days at work", but when you reflect you put it in perspective).
  • I’m thankful for my faith and spiritual journey with our Blessed Mother, and those around me who have supported me and continue to help me grow in this space.
    • There are many people that have become a driving force for me to learn more about the Blessed Mother and the ability for her to be such a powerful force in my life.  I hope to improve in my efforts on my spiritual journey in 2017 along with my boys and Tom.  Every day when I wake up I feel so lucky to have this foundation to keep me grounded and remind me of my purpose and how lucky I am.
    • I am thankful for my brothers and sisters and their husbands and wives and their kids.  They have "showered me with love" since the day I learned about this new adventure.  
    • I am thankful for my in-laws.  Maura, Billy, Jimmy and the kids are so amazing to have in our lives.  AND, Nanny and Grampy teach me and my kids how lucky we are.  Nanny (95 years old) and Grampy (90 years old) have lived such a robust life making a lot out of a little.  Raising amazing kids.  And being amazing mother and father in-laws.  They teach all of us how lucky we are. Grampy is as the boys say "so smart".  He has created a family tree that I am sure will challenge anyone.  He just loves family and history.  Nanny every day "showers Heaven With Prayers" for me and all she knows.  I bet she never asked God for anything for herself.  It's always others.  Nanny always ends everything with "Pray Always".  She has the gates of Heaven waiting open for her when it is her does Grampy!
    • I am thankful for all of my relatives (I have the most amazing cousins and aunts and uncles!) and friends.  They keep growing!  Since my diagnosis, I make more time to accept their invites.  I had no idea what I was missing!  Those days of being too busy at work or busy with the kids are not ruling me any more!  I'm so thankful that I have such a tremendous world around me.
    • And, OF COURSE THE MOST IMPORTANT, I am thankful for my amazing immediate family – my husband Tom and my 4 boys (Alec, Cavan, Duncan and Will). This year I truly realized how my new cancer adventure has brought us that much closer than we already were.  


I look forward to Y3's update of how I did living my life fully!  And working with OOFOS to use my voice to raise awareness and money for research to find "solutions to fight our cancers from growing" so myself and other women and men with stage 4 breast cancer can live "many, many years".  Or even better, let’s raise enough to help them find a cure!

When I was driving home to finish this today Shower the People by James Taylor came on.  I thought : "Did James Taylor call all my family & friends and play Shower the People and tell them to treat me this way" back when I was diagnosed? After replaying the song over and over again, I decided it is my New Years Resolution. I am taking JT's challenge and going for it. I am copying the link to the song below to say Thank You to all for Showering Me with Love! 

Happy New Year and talk to you again when we hit Y3!

(Click the picture and listen)

P.S. click here to support OOFOS Project Pink


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