Valerie Shupp: The Ongoing Fight against Metastatic Breast Cancer

By Drew Carr

Statesman Content Marketing

“Once I found out I was diagnosed, my husband proposed to me. We went to Vegas and got married over the weekend, and on that Monday I started chemotherapy.” – Valerie Shupp

valerie-and-her-daughters
Valerie & her daughters.

Valerie Shupp was originally diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer at 27 years old. After undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Valerie was followed by a doctor regularly for 10 years—and even in spite of the cancer and chemotherapy, Valerie and her husband became parents to two little girls.

But it would be 11 years after Valerie’s diagnosis that her greatest battle would begin. Valerie’s worsening symptoms, which first seemed like allergic reactions, were eventually diagnosed as Stage IV breast cancer—having metastasized to her bones, lungs and ovaries. Needless to say, for Valerie, it was shocking news.

“I had no idea about metastatic breast cancer until I was diagnosed with it. It’s breast cancer that actually spreads to other organs. The pain I felt—I thought it was just natural aging, but it was breast cancer. I didn’t connect the two.” – Valerie Shupp

For the last year and a half, Dr. Debra Patt of Texas Oncology has treated Valerie with an oral chemotherapy, decreasing the size of her tumors and putting her cancer in remission. Valerie is responding well to the treatment, as well as the care and counsel from Dr. Patt.

“We’re having a wonderful experience with Dr. Patt. She’s knowledgeable, she’s got my cancer under control. She’s given me information and told me about support groups. We’re very happy with her.” – Valerie Shupp

Valerie echoes her sentiments about the staff at Texas Oncology–Austin Central on Balcones Drive as well. She has an excellent team managing her care.

valerie-and-family-in-captiva-island
Valerie, her husband & their daughters.

“I’ve really enjoyed the staff at Texas Oncology–Austin Central. The doctors, the nurses, the receptionist—they’re so concerned, so caring and they’re wonderful. I’ve had a really good experience with them and I think they’re doing a great job.”  – Valerie Shupp

As metastatic cancer requires treatment or hormone therapy for the rest of a person’s life, Valerie finds support in the breast cancer support groups like the Breast Cancer Resource Center.

valerie-on-a-recent-fly-fishing-trip
Valerie on her fishing trip.

“The greatest help has been through the support groups recommended by Texas Oncology. They hooked me up with the Breast Cancer Resource Center, where they even have groups for women ages 45 and under with metastatic breast cancer. So the women are the same age as me, some younger than me, and they have young children, too. It’s nice to have people who are going through what you’re going through.” – Valerie Shupp

In spite of her battle against metastatic breast cancer, Valerie is living a full, enjoyable life. Recently, the  support group Without Regrets organized a five-day vacation to Captiva Island, Florida—a place Valerie and her husband have enjoyed visiting for many years—for Valerie, her husband and their two daughters who are now five and eight years old. Valerie also recently attended Casting for Recovery, a retreat for women battling metastatic breast cancer, where she learned to fly fish. For women battling metastatic breast cancer, Valerie says it’s best to take it easy.

“If you’re fighting metastatic breast cancer, do the best you can, every day. If you’re having a bad day, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Take each day as it comes.” – Valerie Shupp