I woke up angry. Furious even.
In the last two weeks, the metastatic breast cancer community has suffered loss after loss. This is not a rare occurrence as 116 people per day die from metastatic breast cancer. What has left me feeling as though I need to scream at the sky, is that in the last week, two of my very good friends were a part of that number. Both were mothers with young children that lived, lived, for their families. They were both also vocal advocates for the need for more research for this heinous disease. They, WE, deserve so much better than they received. Their, OUR, children deserve to have mothers to raise them and see them grow up.
Another loss in the metastatic breast cancer community
As I sat last night, I struggled to find the words to cope with this latest loss of someone I’ve known for years and spoke to regularly as we both have similar diagnoses. We had been on the same treatments, often at the same times, however, what seemed to work for me just never did for her. She was terrified and shared those fears with me.
What is it that makes two people with the same tumor markers, hormonal receptors, age, etc. have such different responses to the same treatments? Why is this not researched more, talked about more, and identified? We have such a long way to go in regards to understanding breast cancer that it is staggering. It is seriously a grab bag…let’s try this and see what happens, now this, now this, until doctors throw their hands up with the lack of further options.
And then we die.
Metastatic breast cancer community
Even as I sit here writing this, I am heartbroken for my sweet friend. Someone I’ve danced with, sang karaoke with, and marched on Washington with. I would not trade even a second of my time with her and I’m filled with gratitude for her friendship. Metastatic breast cancer is a community and it is easy to become heartmates with people you otherwise would never have met. I wouldn’t trade my diagnosis for any of these people. They have helped shape my life and touched my soul in ways I never knew possible. But I want better for them – we all deserve it, including those whose lives are not yet touched by this hateful disease.
Understand where your donation is going
With Pinktober upon us, please make sure to educate yourself on where your money is going and what it is being used for. I have been guilty of buying ink pens and trash bags with pink ribbons on the box more times than I care to admit. What most don’t realize is that while you are trying to do something good by buying these products, the majority do nothing to further breast cancer research. Early detection is important, of course, it is, but early detection does not save lives in the way it is touted. Awareness, encouraging people to do self-exams, seek medical advice all of those things are important. But if we don’t have more research to extend or save lives, we are going to continue dying from this disease and no amount of pink ribbons is going to change that.
I've got to keep moving
Today, I got up, went to work, went to radiation, and loved on my son. It’s what I can do today. When I hug my child, I’m thinking of my friends' children and how they’ll never get to hug their mom again. I think of all of my friends living with MBC, how we are all living on the precipice of the unknown. This is a hard life, often bittersweet, with today being more bitter than sweet. But, I got up, and that is what I need to focus on to keep moving.
And to Roberta…I’ll miss you, you fierce, funny, beautiful woman. I’ll miss you every day.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Saturday, September 12th, 2020, April Doyle passed away. We know that April’s advocacy efforts continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Internal radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation used to treat breast cancer.