LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (KABC) -- Getting an early diagnosis of breast cancer greatly raises the odds for a cure. But sometimes the the cancer comes back and it can spread.
It can be a long, frustrating and difficult journey, but breast cancer warrior 65-year-old Sandi Spivey of Laguna Niguel shows us what it takes to keep fighting.
"I decided to do a chart and it shows all the treatments that I've been on since 1995," she said. Each step of her 23-year battle with breast cancer is documented a 9-foot-long timeline she created.
In chronological order, dozens of entries for chemotherapy, surgery, experimental treatments and even a bone marrow transplant.
Spivey illustrates what it means to have to fight for every "inch" of your life. "When you're metastatic you have one treatment after another," Spivey said, "That's your life from then on out."
Spivey's chart was free of cancer, but in 1998, it was discovered in her bones.
Thirty percent of early stage breast cancers will have it spread to other parts of the body. The condition is called metastatic breast cancer.
"The whole idea is that when you're on a treatment, what is the next drug that you have to be on so you know you'll have something else in your toolkit," she said.
Spivey hopscotches from one treatment to another as they get approved. "If the research dollars stop, then there's little chance of me living much longer," Spivey said.
As a Susan G. Komen patient volunteer, Spivey acts as a liaison between researchers and those who give grants. "They ask advocates like me to review these breast cancer proposals from the viewpoint of the patient," she said.
On Sunday, to help raise funds and awareness for new research, Spivey walked alongside other patients at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Newport Beach.
"I have hope that people like me are going to live longer," she said.
Spivey's message to others is don't skip to the end of your story because there will be plenty of pages in between.
After 23 years, breast cancer patient battles for every single day of life
CIRCLE OF HEALTH