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Marking Time Again & the Numbers Are Staggering

It’s been nine years since my mother died from metastatic breast cancer. She was diagnosed with early stage, ER+ breast cancer in 2004. Her cancer metastasized to her liver and probably her bones, too, in 2007. She died a few months later on March 6, 2008. Statistics say, following a metastatic diagnosis, the median survival rate is three years. My mother got less than three months. And they were brutal months for my entire family. They haunt me still.

I mark time every year here on the blog, because how could I not?

I like to think that even if my mother had not died from metastatic breast cancer, I would still be a staunch advocate for those who grapple with a metastatic diagnosis. The most devastating part of this disease is witnessing the frustration, pain, suffering and death of people I meet, come to know and grow to care about via this blog and elsewhere. But turning my back on them is not an option. I will be an ally. Always.

And of course, I fully realize I could be dealing with a metastatic diagnosis myself some day. This is just a fact. I do not dwell on this, or even think about it that often, but the knowledge of this possibility lurks around in my head and it always will.

Since that day in March, the number of women and men who’ve died from metastatic breast cancer continues to mount.

Since that day in March, roughly 110 more women and men have died every single day.

Since that day in March, roughly 770 women and men have died every single week.

Since that day in March, roughly 3,000 women and men have died every single month.

Since that day in March, roughly 40,000 women and men have died. Every. Single. Year.

Since that day in March, roughly 360,000 women and men have died from metastatic breast cancer.

This means 360,000 more families have been devastated. Families like mine. And yours.

Too many, just too many.

When you see the numbers laid out in black and white, they are staggering, are they not?

And these are only the US numbers.

So yes, I will continue to mark time. I will continue to advocate for more awareness and research specific to metastatic disease. I will continue to use my voice whenever and wherever I can to push for better and less harsh treatments for metsters. I will continue to be an ally in any and all ways I can be for my friends, as well as for those I will never know, who deal with this wretched disease. I will continue to resist and push back against the still prevalent narrative that says breast cancer is a disease you can “beat” by donning pink and smiling your way through it.

I will continue refusing to sugarcoat a disease that disrupts, poisons, mutilates, scars and too often kills.

I will continue to remember, and I will continue to mark time.

Because we must do better.

And we must not forget.

Note:  Stats via Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

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Featured image via I want more than a pink ribbon, a blog written by Vickie Young Wen. Vickie died from metastatic breast cancer in October 2016. #wewillnotforget

Who do you mark time for?

How do you advocate for those dealing with metastatic disease?


My mother holding dear daughter and son #one.

My mother holding my daughter and son #one. She loved her grandma role.


My mother with son # two.

My mother with son #two. My children were blessed to know their grandma. Many are not so fortunate. Still, she was stolen from our lives by cancer too soon.

Beth Gainer

Saturday 18th of March 2017


Thank you for sharing those pictures of your mom with your children.


Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

Beth, Thank you for reading. Glad you liked the photos. xo


Saturday 11th of March 2017

Hi Nancy. I love the pictures of your sweet mom. I can tell she really enjoyed her role as a grandmother (and mother). And your kids look so adorable.

It is shocking to me that so many people still die from this disease. What's even more shocking to me is how these deaths don't cause a panic in our society and how there is a lack of research. You would think these numbers will scare most people, therefore, they would demand more attention and serious research. Those stressing the situation are either already diagnosed, too sick or don't live long enough to help create some changes. I fear for my loved ones, for my friends and for myself. Once again, I blame the culture. The ideology that cancer can be cured with positive thinking and "healthy" diet. I also blame the blame game -- people thinking cancer patients caused their cancer one way or another. I also blame denial. If some of these people had the same kind of awareness we have, we would be noticing a shift.

I mark time for my grandma (ovarian cancer), aunts and cousin (BC) and my friends who have died. I try to educate others when the topic comes up. Or when there is some crazy expectation of me.

I am sorry about your mama. She deserved better. We all do. xoxo


Friday 10th of March 2017

I enjoyed seeing the pictures.


Friday 10th of March 2017

Lindsay, Glad to hear it. Her grandchildren made her very happy and the pictures show that nicely.


Thursday 9th of March 2017

Nancy, whenever I come across the fact that there are still over 40,000 deaths from breast cancer in this country each year I am appalled all over again by the huge numbers of lives that are being lost to this disease. Progress has simply been way too slow.

I mark time for my mother (although she died from a different type of metastatic cancer) and for my cousin. I try to write about MBC issues regularly on my blog. Thank you Nancy, for this post and for always working to keep attention focused on MBC.


Friday 10th of March 2017

Lisa, The numbers continue to be staggering. Due to incomplete messaging out there, I think many people aren't aware so many still die from breast cancer. So, I'll keep beating my drum. Thank you for addressing mbc on your blog and elsewhere. Thank you for commenting and for sharing my post, too. What sort of cancer did your mother and cousin have?

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