"Life does not simply end with an MBC diagnosis. Our writers prove this again and again with the glimpses they provide here into their lives. But they do need support. Let us begin by clearing away the pink fog of October and bearing witness."
The latest copy of WILDFIRE Magazine is available in print and online. April Stearns insightful and sympathetic writing touches again...
"When I sat down for the first time in the overstuffed La-Z-Boy at what I would later term my “Chemo Lounge,” I was not thinking about metastatic disease. I was merely thinking, “Get through this and then get back to normal!” After the IV was hooked up and the first drops of medication entered my system, a woman in a fuzzy gray knit cap across the room waved and smiled at me and asked kindly if I was new. I liked her right away. I did not know she would later become the first person I met after my diagnosis to die from metastatic breast cancer. Her name was Julia. As it turns out, she was the wife of the local farmer where I got my Community Supported Agriculture box. In our smallish town I “knew” Julia by name, mostly by her recipe-related emails that went along with the CSA bounty, but I didn't really know her in real life. Now as I sat across the room from her, life got very real. I learned that she was on her second diagnosis. The first had occurred when she was 35 and her daughter was 4 – eerily identical to my own statistics. Now she was 45 and facing both a teen daughter and a metastatic recurrence. She would pass away within a couple of years of our chatting that day.
Despite meeting Julia, I remained pretty clueless about MBC as I traveled through my treatment year. Whenever I had questions about my own risk of metastatic disease, my oncologist brushed them aside, preferring for me to stay positive, to “cross that bridge when we come to it.” So when my last day of chemo came, while I didn't ring a bell (there was none) I did bake muffins for the whole Lounge to celebrate. I had no awareness at that point that some of the people in there that day would never have a happy last day of treatment.
When I look back at who I was then, I cringe. I was so naive about MBC. But I also have to recognize that it wasn't entirely my fault. As much information as there is around us about breast cancer now, there really isn't a lot being said about MBC in the mainstream even now. Most people, through little fault of their own, live in a pink fog in which they believe breast cancer is now curable, that it is the “good cancer” to get, that early detection saves lives, that breast cancer awareness month is doing service. Sadly, these “truths” are false.
Here is what I now know for sure: 1) the MBC community needs us, 2) 1 in 3 early stagers will face a metastatic recurrence no matter what stage they were initially diagnosed, and 3) you don't have to be diagnosed with MBC to advocate and educate about the disease. The new issue of WILDFIRE, our third annual MBC issue, is all about shedding light on the young metastatic community and helping those within it to see one another and know they are not alone. This issue includes stories from women diagnosed with MBC after an initial diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer as well as those diagnosed for the first time with late-stage breast cancer. They come from all across the continent, many different walks of life, in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. The one thing they all have in common is their MBC diagnosis was not because of something they did or didn't do. It was simply really shitty luck.
Life does not simply end with an MBC diagnosis. Our writers prove this again and again with the glimpses they provide here into their lives. But they do need support. Let us begin by clearing away the pink fog of October and bearing witness."
The latest copy of WILDFIRE is available here:
MBC: YOUNG & STAGE IV, Vol 3, Issue 5, Oct/Nov 2018. Subscribe now to read
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