5 Things I Want My Family and Friends to Know About Life with MBC
1. Stop worrying about me!
Lose the long Face! I am a very strong and confident wife, mother and grandmother. I want to tell everyone to stop worrying about me. I want to shout back -please worry about yourself. Family and friends think they are healthy but many of those who surround me don’t look in good physical shape. It is too hysterical when I enter the room and a friend asks, “HOW ARE YOU?” The same friend continues to tell me they have been thinking of me and had a feeling about me and again asks, “HOW ARE YOU”? I answer with a calm demeanor, “I am better than most people in this room.” I want to tell everyone to lose the long, sad face. My diagnosis of Metastatic Breast Cancer has given me a great gift. I have been given the time to change my life in many ways. Slowing down and identifying what is most important in my life is now my focus.
2. Treat me “normally"
I hate being the elephant in the room and many times I am at family functions and you can just see people talking amongst themselves. They pull my husband aside and ask, “Does she really feel as good as she looks?” “Why has she lost weight?” His reply is YES to feeling good and regarding the weight loss, I intentionally lost 60 pounds by weighing and measuring all my food since October 2017. I use an app on my phone and I continue doing this today. In October 2017, I weighed 186 pounds at that time and now weigh 125 pounds. This had nothing to do with cancer since I was diagnosed six months after I began paying attention to my weight. My weight loss has everything to do with being healthy.
3. Everyone is dying
I just got the memo and it isn’t so bad. I am glad I have time to craft a legacy. Besides writing, I love to make photo books online and am taking time to look through photos, scanning them and designing books for various family members.
4. Take a look around
There are so many others who have greater problems and disabilities than me. Just look around and you will find them. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m., I attend Latin Dancing at my gym. At that time, there are women and men attending a class for people dealing with MS. They are all great-looking people, but their disease has left them with crutches, canes, walkers and for some, a wheelchair. When I see them, I thank God for the mobility I have with my disease.
Recently, I am inspired by Rob Mendez, a high school football coach who was honored at the ESPY awards that aired on July 10, 2019. Rob was born with no arms, no legs. Despite his disabilities, he speaks these words: “Who says I can’t? NOBODY.” How much do I love this mantra? This is what I want to tell my friends and family. “Who says I can’t? NOBODY.”
5. Changing the face of cancer
I guess we all have memories of people we knew who had cancer and who sadly died. Their journeys were painful with memories of them deteriorating in body, mind, and spirit. For me, I remember my grandmother Rose and my husband’s sister, Jean. My grandmother lived a long time with breast cancer and lymphoma with minimal interruption to her normal life. I remember she had radiation and took chemo. She told her doctors that she did not want any extraordinary treatment. My grandmother died at age 72.
My sister-in-law had breast cancer that had spread and she waited too long to get a diagnosis. She went through conventional treatment and this left her body very weak and her spirit diminished. She died at 55 years old. I was with her many times, hugging her as her hair fell out from the chemo.
I share these two stories because they have inspired me to change the face of cancer. People meet me, and they can hardly believe I have cancer. They want to know what I am doing to stay healthy despite my cancer. I love to share the list of all the great things I am doing. My sign off for my articles is “Stay Amazed” and I sit back and am constantly amazed at how my journey with cancer is unfolding. For right now…life is good and each day is a great gift!
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 5, 2019, Linda passed away. Linda’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?