I’m a poet. I am a writer. I am a woman with metastatic breast cancer. Like me prior to March of 2015: Incurable and alive. My life prior to diagnosis at stage IV consisted of the wobbly first steps of my life’s spiritual journey. I do not believe cancer is a “gift” or a “war.” It is not a choice I made nor a karmic wheel that rolled over me. Cancer isn’t a punishment and when MBC people die they don’t fail, the medical community failed us. Only 6-7% of all research dollars for breast cancer are allocated to metastatic breast cancer and #stage4needsmore – 1:8 women get a breast cancer diagnosis and 40% of us will become metastatic- that is the cancer has gone beyond the breast.
Six years ago, breast cancer with metastasis to the bone initially, became the first steps in a the long and most difficult of my life’s journey. My education stressed communications and probably defines one of my strongest attributes. My ability to digest and incorporate hordes of information has helped me to both navigate the incredibly difficult terrain I found myself on and arrive at the help I needed using the quickest route possible. Not only medical but includes financial, professional, and personal.
Ask me any question you want about my experience related to MBC and I am happy to share, even very intimate information if it can help someone else. My feeling in this matter: it’s incumbent upon me to share of myself because no one else understands quite like others afflicted with similar diagnosis. Also, our support circles now need to expand to include fast new friends, including virtual friends through online support groups. These people have become integral to finding inner peace and integrating them into my world, I would argue, helps improve our quality of life.
25 years of marketing and communications in the high tech industry allowed me to quickly develop required skills to which I’d not even been exposed prior to landing my first gig as a public relations manager. The very nature of what my industry set out to do, simply stated, was to change the speed at which the world communicated. That necessitated the use of newly invented tools. Tools that would vividly engage customers in real time discussions rather than just yell it at them way back when in the age of commercial advertising. We had the awesome job of convincing businesses they could trust us to successfully lead them into the future. Hence, the unlikely career of an English major began in telecommunications. Ha!
Now in the most odd position again, I’m in the peak of my Midlife and instead of the executive’s washroom key handed to me, I got a fast port for chemo and other substances to be easily injected into my body – it was installed under my skin just over the offending tit that’s got the tumors. Stupid tit.
So what’s life like these days? Lonely, isolated, boring at times, funny, abstinent for periods of time I still cannot even fathom, constipated, painful, sweaty, but HAPPY TO BE ALIVE EVERY DAY. And I’m￼ a patient advocate for LBBC.com – living beyond breast cancer, a contributor to other blogs and books on the topic, and share the love of a wide virtual support network of friends worldwide. What a surprising benefit that’s become.
Yet simply living is a full time job. I spend at least 10 business days a month dedicated to doctors visits, tests, chemo, drug therapy, research, and patient advocacy. An equivalent number of days spent recovering emotionally and physically from the aforementioned. My husband and I spend a lot of time in the same room trying desperately to reinvent our relationship to get as much guilt out of the house and as much joy into the house as possible. It’s harder than you might think.
Work on http://cancerbus.com as much as possible and I also write poetry and read and absorb as much media as possible on cancer and related topics so I can regurgitate in some informed manner and help those who aren’t strong enough to speak or are too tired to absorb the information required to be as good of a self advocate as we need to be with MBC.
I live in the Sierra foothills of Northern California with my husband and partner of nearly 14 years and my cat son, Simon. I’m also a stepmom to two handsome boys 22 and 19 who I love all very much. I tell my boys in all but blood they are my own, although I don’t recommend step parenting to the faint of heart- it’s a tough role to be in any family situation, mine included. Their own mother doesn’t believe I have MBC, but you know what I probably think of that.