Earlier in my life I was dedicated to my job. It was always work work work and no time for me. But then came that first diagnosis – early breast cancer. Usually, cancer means you’re going to die – it’s a death diagnosis – but not me. I decided I was going to fight. I started to take care of myself more. Make more time for me. Life was good for 5 years. Then after a doctor’s call, I was summoned to the city. There I found the cancer had spread to my lungs.
A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis changes everything. It’s something you can’t fight. Something hard to come to terms with. I had to really think properly about myself – have deep internal conversations about what I wanted to be when I got to my deathbed. I wanted to have nothing left to do, so I decided to not stay at home and wallow. I didn’t want to work anymore so instead I did what I could. I went hiking. Travelling. I did whatever my heart wanted.
I think I’m very lucky when it comes to my metastatic breast cancer. I set myself a mantra to live by – until I have to move on, whatever it is, I’m going to do it. And for almost ten years I’ve done just that. I feel full of energy and life. It’s so different to others who have been less fortunate.
It is only now that I finally feel like someone living with metastatic breast cancer.
It isn’t easy. But metastatic breast cancer is not the end of the world. You just have to find your own energy and way to fight inside. Not just with metastatic breast cancer, but with any illness, any stress, any problem in your life. I was a good person before, but now I’m even better after dedicating more time to me. To everything. I’m so proud of it. I can’t express it any more clearly, but I urge people to take chances. Do it now. Don’t wait until tomorrow because you don’t know if tomorrow will come.
Yes, people need to know what living with the condition is like, but they also need to know that we can still live. We have to let others know we are not ashamed of our stories, or our illness. We are telling our stories, so others know they are not alone – that we are here. One day, yes, we will be gone, but our stories? They will stay."
Slovenia is small and beautiful. I live in a really small town, where there are just 700 families. I live in a cosy flat, just outside of the city centre, where I’m surrounded by forest. It’s all perfectly put together for me.
I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018 at the age of 42. It was my second cancer diagnosis as I had already been battling early breast cancer from 2013. It was after that first diagnosis, 2014 in fact, that I joined Europa Donna. It allowed me to make many new friends, all who have a shared experience. And, just like my friends, my family is very important to me. I have two siblings, a brother and sister, and always stay connected with them.
After my diagnosis, I started to sew teddy bears. I needed something to help with my stress and being creative helps me to stay calm. It takes about 10 hours to make one, and so far, I’ve made 86 – all hand sewn by me. I’ve even had an exhibition where they could be bought for a donation to charity.
Hiking is my life, and, after my second diagnosis, I really walked a lot. It became a place for my soul to heal. In my opinion nature is the best medicine in the world. It’s a healer. And the best thing for me is going out.
After my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, I decided I needed to climb the highest mountain in Slovenia – Triglav – again. I’d done it once when I was young, 16 or so, but when I realised it was now or never, I knew I had to do it. I started to walk and condition myself more, and after a lot of hard work I was successful. I climbed 3846m and made it right to the top.
My friends would describe me as powerful. Just like I describe myself. Also, full of energy. I’ve been lucky in that regard, even with my diagnosis. Finally, bright and passionate. I want to make a difference.
In remembrance of Simona Ahcin, this section was penned by her closest family.
People with MBC deserve better.
For Simona, it is too late to help her, but even now there are many people living with MBC across Europe and the rest of the world.
Every one of these people deserve to be seen, counted, treated, and supported.
We need to act now.