Her right breast and lymph nodes, which were 100 percent cancerous, were removed. She was 39 years old.
Now in her 50s, Porteous has lived with metastatic breast cancer, an advanced form of the disease for which there is no cure, for 14 years — perhaps longer, considering she felt the initial pea-sized lump in her breast for years.
Despite her indefinite prognosis and current daily doses of chemotherapy pills and Zometa infusions every three weeks, Porteous has the strength to persevere with grace and the tireless support and unabashed love of her husband, Nick.
“He’s my rock,” says Porteous.
Their love story — a quintessential office romance — began in Newcastle, England, in the late 1990s when Porteous took a job as an office temp at Nick’s workplace. Known as a “free spirit,” the native Long Island, New Yorker moved to England in her 20s where, in her words, she “really started to live.”
“We were traveling in Germany when the breast lump began to hurt,” said Porteous. “When I finally got an appointment upon my return to England, they did a radical mastectomy. The earlier ‘don’t worry about it’ remarks were proven wrong.”
Nick and Porteous moved to upstate New York in 1999 to have better access to advanced treatments for her ongoing battle with cancer which, over the course of a few years, had spread to her liver and spine.
In 2008, Porteous’s Stage 4 breast cancer re-occurred in her lymph nodes. That summer, a work-related relocation made Woodstock home.
How they landed at Northwest Georgia Oncology Center in Marietta was a process of elimination turned blessing.
“Other Atlanta-based oncologists either didn’t work out or lost interest in me,” said Porteous. “Fortunately, bad experiences and our own diligent research to find a doctor who had a personal interest in me lead us to Dr. Carmen Klass.”
Under the watchful care of Dr. Klass, Porteous is fighting cancer with the most advanced treatments available. “She’s savvy about what’s going on and keeps up with the latest treatments and clinical trials,” Porteous added . “Dr. Klass gives me a lot of hope.”
Although her love for travel and adventure hasn’t waned, her ability to do so has. Porteous’s found other ways to channel her passions by cooking, baking, reading, gardening, and taking art and painting classes at a local art gallery. She also enjoys spending time with friends who help lighten the load for her husband by taking turns accompanying her to appointments and treatments.
Porteous also invests many hours talking to other people living with cancer.
After hearing Porteous’s story, many express their desire to be as strong as her.
“It’s the most flattering thing they can say,” said Porteous.
After a conversation with Porteous, one realizes she doesn’t use her cancer as a crutch.
She even jokes about her condition.
When discussing her current chemotherapy regimen, Porteous put it this way, “if a mosquito bites me, it dies.”
“There’s not a day that goes by I’m not thinking about my cancer; wondering if it’s kicking up again somewhere else,” said Porteous, whose cancer is currently in her lymph nodes and spine. “But I stay positive, laugh a lot and have supreme trust in Dr. Klass to direct my care. She’s a great doctor, is honest and really cares.”
And, added Nick Porteous, “she’s a great match for Margie.”
Nick Porteuous should know. He’s lovingly been by his wife’s side every step of the journey.