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.
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
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?