It is so damn hard to be "woken" up to this world of breast cancer in so many ways. Not just because of the knowledge that life is really short but also because it becomes clear that you are not immortal - that there could be a day when you die from this disease before your "time". No one knows what their "time" is but I guess we always think, pre-cancer, that it is really really far away and not even something to think about because what are the chances that it will happen "soon"?
And what does "soon" mean, anyway? I mean, it is just not something you spend too much time thinking about when balancing life with kids, house, family, jobs, stress of all kinds and even a puppy. And then BAM, you are diagnosed with an illness that could, in theory, be deadly. The dreaded "c" word and no one understands and knows what it is even after surgery, after treatment, after the whole 9-yards, there are still always countless yards to go because end of story is no one knows BUT it could always be worse.
In my opinion, "worse" is to be diagnosed Stage IV from the get-go and it was something I was panicked about, without knowing the correct terms or what it really meant, when I was diagnosed last year. I was so afraid that it had spread, that it was elsewhere in my body that I asked for a pet-scan. I wrote about it before on my blog and the greatest gift I got at that time when everything was so terrible was that I had no signs of cancer anywhere else in my body (or at least not from head to knees).
I think every day about those who were diagnosed Stage IV either first thing or after years in which they thought the cancer was "gone" - being Stage IV means that they will be undergoing treatment for the rest of their lives, that their lives will be ending sooner than they thought full stop as most people do not survive many years with Stage IV, and a lot more of terrible stuff - most importantly is that research dollars do not go to Stage IV.
I am a newbie at this but I am trying to fill the void left by the death of my "friend", Beth Caldwell. I put "friend" in quotes because although I feel she was my friend, in reality, we never met. We never spoke on the phone. We never heard the sound of each other's voice in real time but we connected on social media. I was in awe of what she was doing as a founder of MetUp (metup.org/) as someone, just about my age who was diagnosed as Stage IV at the beginning of her plot twist and she did so much for the community, even for a newbie like me.
It is hard enough to deal with loss but this kind of loss is something that is hard to share, hard to deal with because who can understand that what I mean when I say "friend" - it is something most people who have never dealt with a potential life threatening illness maybe cannot quite understand. I feel her loss, the community feels her loss and we grieve it. We think about what we can do to fill the void.
As most of my blog readers know, I am unemployed right now but when I saw Beth's husband sharing on social media about her death and the organization she helped to fund research for to help others with Stage IV, I donated and set up a small recurring donation in the amount of $10. For those of us who are "early stagers", please understand that 1/3 of us do still run the risk of being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer no matter how pink and fluffy we were during treatment. This shit can still come back and recent research has shown it can even come back 15, 20 years or more later and God forbid it can kill us still. The link to donate in her name is below. When you donate, her family gets cards showing it was done and it is something to make her life be not in vain.
For her children and husband, my heart breaks and I think there but for the grace of God do I go - it could happen to any one of us it could even not be cancer but something else some freak accident but for those of us who have been touched by cancer, we always think it could be cancer.
Beth already inspired me to write one other post about being a mom and having cancer but this post is the most important one for me to write for Beth; do what you can, give what you can to help make breast cancer less of a potential death sentence. To help Stage IV because they "need more".
This is what I do in the time between.
*Read more about Beth here, www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2017/11/beth-caldwell-impact-metastatic-breast-cancer.html.
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