Teri Pollastro slams the medicine ball, hard, onto the gym floor. “I pretend it’s my cancer,” she says.
Pollastro received her first cancer diagnosis just six weeks after giving birth to her second daughter. Her doctors told her she had a noninvasive form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ. After a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, they thought she was cured. It was 1999.
After four years of being cancer-free, Pollastro received another cancer diagnosis: stage IV metastatic breast cancer — it had spread to her liver. In these cases, a patient’s average life expectancy is just three to four years.
At the time, Pollastro was 43 years old. Her two girls were 3 and 7. “I was devastated and in shock,” says Pollastro. “I never thought it would come back.”