How I Learned to Thrive in the Face of Metastatic Cancer

Fabiana MarieThirteen years ago, I sat in a waiting room for my consultation with the board of doctors who would decide how my cancer journey would proceed. As I sat there shaking, palms sweating, with tears in my eyes and a knot in my stomach, a woman next to me leaned over and whispered softly in my ear, “Ninety-nine percent of this fight will be your mental fight.”

I have never forgotten those words. Since that day, they have become my mantra. They’re the sacred refrain I wrap myself in when days seem impossible, when the world looks grim and my mind wanders to a place of despair. 

I have worked diligently over the years to encompass healing in my mind, body, and soul. I’ve had my share of setbacks, many days when all I wanted to do was hide my head under the covers and give up, days spent crying and purging emotions. But I have also spent countless days basking in the joy of the amazing life I have. 
The bravest thing any of us will ever do is consciously choose to live.We each have our own way of coping with life, losses, setbacks, and adversity. We each have our own acts of survival, our own ways of staying positive when faced with unspeakable pain. The one thing we all have in common is our ability to use our mental strength to forge ahead and find the light within even the darkest of days. The bravest thing any of us will ever do is consciously choose to live.

I want to thank the beautiful stranger who changed my life thirteen years ago. You have given me the best gift I could have ever received – the gift of perspective. In that one moment, you shed a light on the dark road I was soon to traverse. And you helped me find my way.


Diagnosed at age 27, as the new mother of a one-year-old daughter, Fabianna Marie is now a thirteen-year metastatic breast cancer fighter and author of the book Fabulously Fighting. After thirteen years of multiple oncologists, experimental chemotherapy, radiation, ruminating on countless what-ifs, and learning how to stay positive despite cancer, Fabianna chooses to live each day to the fullest, filling her life with love, laughter, and honesty. In 2016, eleven years after her cancer diagnosis, she created an online community called Fabulously Fighting (FabulouslyFighting.com), which is dedicated to helping others live their most fabulous lives in the face of adversity. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @fabfighting.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2019.