Saturday, November 10, 2018

How You Can Help



So many wonderful people have asked me what they can do to help as I navigate this devastating diagnosis. So I’ve put together this list of things that I will need as I head into treatment. 

Donations:

You can donate via my Go Fund Me account here: https://www.gofundme.com/erin-cronican

I will be using any money raised to help with lost wages as I go through treatment and to handle any medical expenses that might not be covered. It will also relieve some of the pressure off Brandon from having to carry so much while I’m in treatment.


Gifts:

Gift Certificates for massage therapy, facials, pampering

iTunes gift cards (to watch movies online while in the hospital)

Amazon gift cards (to buy products that will help with my treatment)

Anything you think might brighten my day (I love handmade/artisan stuff - Etsy, etc)


My address:

165 E 87th Street #3FW
New York, NY 10128




Mail & Email:

I love getting cards and things in the mail, so anything you want to send would be appreciated.

I also appreciate cute animal videos that make me laugh, which you can email to erin@erincronican.com or text to 917-574-0417.


Hospital Visits:

I will be in the hospital for surgery November 19 and will be there for several days. If you think you might like to visit, text me during that week at 917-574-0417 and I can make arrangements for you to come to say hello.



Thank you so much for helping me manage this diagnosis with grace, ease, and a little bit of fun. It means the world to me.



Erin Cronican is a breast cancer survivor, whose career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit www.erincronican.com.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Yes, I have Stage IV Breast Cancer

The diagnosis has hit me like a ton of bricks.

Breast cancer has come back and has spread to my lungs. This is called Stage IV Breast Cancer, with metastasis (“mets”) to the lungs. Quoting Margaret Edson from the play, WIT - “Stage IV - there is no Stage V.”

So what does this mean? In the short term, it means I will be on some cocktail of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and/or immunotherapy for the rest of my life. In the long term, my life is not going to be that long. People with my kind of cancer tend to survive 3-5 years.


Yep. 3-5 years. That’s all the doctor’s say I have left to live.

The hope is that treatment will shrink the tumors and keep them from spreading for as many years as possible. I’m young and relatively healthy, so I should be able to tolerate treatment well. And the hope is that I’ll have enough energy to continue to do what I love doing - performing, producing and teaching.

But I have to be honest - it’s very hard to see the positives when I know disease is cutting everything short. I know it’s early - I only just found out yesterday - so it’s natural to feel upset. And I’m sure that the anxiety and depression will lift to reveal more purpose and direction than I had before the diagnosis.

But right now... I’m just angry. And scared. And so, so sad. And no amount of “Kum-ba-yah” makes me feel any better. It makes me feel alone. Alone because I am one of the few who knows how I’m going to die and what the relative time frame is, and that’s an isolating feeling. I also feel guilty about the impact this is having on my family and close friends, so I’m fighting the urge to pull away as to protect them. To protect YOU.

Not to mention the impact my bank account. That’s terrifying.

I have all the feels.

For those of you who know me, you know I won’t allow myself to feel this way for long. But I thought it was important to let you know the truth of what it’s like for me. Because that kind of honesty provides me a sort of catharsis in this crazy situation.

It fucking sucks.



Erin Cronican is a breast cancer survivor, whose career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit www.erincronican.com.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

When Cancer Comes Back

On October 29 at 1:42pm I received the second worst phone call of my life.

“I’m sorry. Your tests show breast cancer...again.”

The worst phone call was when I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, which was also over the phone.

Phones are not really my friend these days.

To give this news some context...What most people don’t understand is the debilitating fear that cancer will return. Every cancer survivor bends over backwards to avoid recurrence, and for breast cancer survivors the magic number is 5. If you can make it 5 years without a recurrence, your odds go back to as though you’ve never had cancer. But during the 5 year window, the survivor is pummeled with fear and anxiety. So much so for me that I’m in therapy three days a week and am on two different types of anti-depressants just to get through life.

My dreaded phone call came at 3.5 years. What was fear became reality.


There are mostly questions right now, and not many answers. Has the cancer spread throughout my body, or is it “just” contained within my breast? If “just” in my breast, will I have to have chemo or will surgery be enough? Will I need a double mastectomy or will a single one suffice? Will I get reconstruction or stay flat-chested? Will I be able to work, or will I lose my business (like I nearly did last time)? Will I have to take time off from acting? Am I going to die soon?

Am I going to die soon?

I find out some answers on Tuesday when I meet with my oncologist to go over my PET scan results. The PET scan looks at the body to find where cancer is lurking. It will tell us if what I have is a local recurrence (“just” the breast) or a distant recurrence (spread outside of the breast.) If it is “just” a local recurrence, I will have treatment (surgery/chemo, etc) and then start another 5 year journey of fearing its return. If it is a distant recurrence (also called metastatic breast cancer) it is considered terminal with no cure, and a 3-5 year prognosis.

I’m emphasizing “just” for a reason. If I’m not careful, I’ll underplay what is happening and look at “cancer ‘just’ in my breast” as something positive. I guess it is, if we think the alternative. But it’s not positive. It’s gut-wrenching. And I’m somehow deprived of grieving/raging/lamenting because I don’t yet know if it’s “just” local cancer or if it’s terminal. So I’m stuck in some kind of terrible limbo between two terrible diagnoses not knowing how to feel.

I only know how to feel afraid.

The PET scan will prove one way or another, and I’ll know on Tuesday. I’m sure I’ll report back shortly afterward so that you won’t be kept hanging like I have been.

Waiting sucks.

But I’m gonna try to live fully while I wait.
 

Erin Cronican is a breast cancer survivor, whose career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit www.erincronican.com.


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