Seven months into a fight for her life, Apryl Roberts isn’t battling alone. She is buoyed by good news, good friends and her family, the center of her world.
The Lynnwood mother, first featured in The Herald in May, was diagnosed in March with inflammatory breast cancer. It’s a rare and aggressive form of the disease that, because there is no lump, defies early detection.
Roberts was almost seven months pregnant when she was diagnosed. She and her husband Peter Roberts had their second daughter, Haven Lee, on May 31. The baby joined 2-year-old sister Charlee. At nearly 5 months old, a healthy, happy Haven weighs 13 pounds and has a sweet smile.
The 36-year-old mom shared an update on her cancer fight Wednesday.
“I’m done with the really hard chemo, and my hair is kind of growing back,” said Roberts, who is being treated at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Edmonds. She is getting what she called maintenance chemotherapy, and expects to take two cancer drugs, Herceptin and Perjeta, indefinitely. Those treatments are every three weeks.
Encouraging news came five weeks ago when scans showed no evidence of disease.
Three weeks ago, Roberts had surgery, a single right mastectomy. She was back in the hospital a week later with an infection, requiring more surgery. Now healing, she’ll soon be treated with radiation at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland. She’ll have 33 treatments, one every weekday for about six weeks, aimed at lowering the chance of recurrence.
New fears were allayed last week. Roberts had been feeling woozy. Doctors did MRI scans to see if the disease had spread to her brain. “We’re really, really praying,” she said Wednesday. On Friday morning, she shared that those prayers were answered. The scans “came back clear,” she said.
Filled with family and friends, the Roberts household is a busy place.
Alicia Marroquin, a friend since seventh grade, had come last week from Walla Walla to help. Marroquin is now a pink-bracelet-wearing member of “Team Apryl.”
A friend from Everett, Breanna Mosebach, was there Wednesday with her 4-month-old son, Joseph. She and Roberts once worked together at a Starbucks in Lake Forest Park. With children the same age, they get together for play dates.
Roberts’ mother, Debi Morris, was also visiting. She comes every Wednesday from Bainbridge Island, and spent a week with her daughter after the surgery. “She has an amazing spirit,” Morris said.
Keeping spirits up can’t be easy. In May, Roberts talked about how her oncologist, Dr. Eileen Johnston, was frank about the disease. Johnston told her at the time of diagnosis that she had stage 3 or 4 inflammatory breast cancer — and just a few years to live.
Full of life and joy on Wednesday, Roberts picked up Haven and chased a giggling Charlee around the dining room table.
She showed her courage Sept. 25 when she participated in the 2016 Run of Hope Seattle, a 5K-run to support brain tumor research at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “I pushed Charlee in the stroller, and my husband walked with Haven,” she said.
A lifelong athlete, Roberts climbed 69 floors of a Seattle skyscraper in a fundraiser for the Leukemia &Lymphoma Society two days before being diagnosed. She hopes to do it again next year, but first she is signing up to run with her sister, Autumn, in Seattle’s Jingle Bell Run. That Arthritis Foundation fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 11.
Her surgery kept her from being part of the Snohomish County Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The Oct. 15 walk, an American Cancer Society event, raised more than $77,000 to fight the disease. “I want to get through all this and get out and share more awareness,” she said.
For now, there is life and love.
“It’s nice to be busy with sweet little girls,” she said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
Apryl Roberts, a mother of two small daughters, is battling a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. Donations to help the Lynnwood area family may be made at: www.gofundme.com/aprylsbigclimb