Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day & Remembering

Did you know October 13th is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day?

Yes, metastatic breast cancer gets its own awareness day designation. It should be getting a whole lot more, but I guess one day is better than no day at all.

Friend and fellow blogger, Katherine O’Brien from I Hate Breast Cancer, recently proposed her idea to fellow bloggers of taking this day to remember those each of us has lost to breast cancer; thank you Katherine. That’s what I’m doing today.

I’m remembering. 

I’m remembering my mother and all the others. My mother died from metastatic breast cancer on March 6, 2008. She was originally diagnosed in February 2004 after finding the lump in her breast on my birthday. Her cancer recurred in 2007.

Sometimes I don’t think people realize when someone dies of breast cancer; the odds are they died from metastatic breast cancer. It isn’t the initial lump that kills. Breast cancer becomes deadly when it metastasizes or spreads to other areas of the body, most commonly the bones, brain, liver or lungs. Mestastatic breast cancer is considered stage IV breast cancer. There is no stage V. Presently it is unknown why some cancers metastasize and others do not. Today about 155,000 people are living with MBC.

I cannot figure out the reason why metastatic breast cancer gets so little attention during the craziness of Pinktober and the rest of the year too for that matter. And the dismal amount of dollars being spent on MBC research makes no sense to me either. The focus seems to be almost entirely on early detection, awareness and education. These are all admirable and necessary areas to tend to, but again, the other end of the spectrum is the end that is deadly.

It’s my hope that more dollars will be funneled into research, specifically metastatic breast cancer research.

I whole heartedly back prevention research as well. Preventing cancer in the first place should always be the top priority.

However until we can prevent cancer, or stop it in its tracks once it strikes, we must keep trying to unlock the secrets of why it metastasizes, why it kills. We must also keep trying to find less harsh treatments that offer better quality of life and better rates of survival for those who are presently living with MBC. We must keep trying to save lives and MBC still takes some 40,000 lives each year, roughly one every fourteen minutes.

Please check out this link and learn 13 facts everyone should know about metastatic breast cancer. Granted, it’s not an easy or pleasant topic to learn about, but that doesn’t mean we should not do so.  

On this day, remember. Remember those you’ve lost.  Remember those others have lost. Remember those presently living with metastatic breast cancer; for them, it’s not about pretty pink ribbons. And it’s not about just one day.

Remember.

That’s what I’m doing today. I’m remembering…

How about you?

Who will you remember?

 

Yes, that's me my mom is holding

 

Enjoying a special day

 

The hair screams the 80's, right? Me on left, one of my sisters on right

 

My mom loved her grandma role (my daughter and oldest son)

 

Taken after initial diagnosis before recurrence (my youngest son)

 

One of the last photos of my mom - with my daughter

Remembering…

31 comments


  • Stacey

    October 13, 2011

    Oh Nancy! I absolutely love the photos. I love your mom just by looking at her. Thank you for this beautiful post and the reminder about MBC. Everyone needs to know it’s out there.

    • Nancy

      October 13, 2011

      Thank you, Stacey. And you’re right, everyone needs to know about mets.

  • Lindsay

    October 13, 2011

    I love the photos, too!

    • Nancy

      October 13, 2011

      Lindsay, Glad you liked them. You look pretty cute in those you’re in!

  • Being Sarah

    October 13, 2011

    Thanks for this Nancy. Love the photos. Love the way the details in the background or the clothes and hair really give a sense of time.

    Today, sadly, there are too many women to remember. I’d like to remind us of JaneRA and her desire that after her death there would be a new movement to find answers to the questions we need to be asking to stop metastatic breast cancer and prevent new cancer.

    “a movement will begin to challenge governments, and research scientists, the medics and the charities”

    You can see her full quote here:
    http://beingsarahblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/loud-opinionated-jane/

    • Nancy

      October 13, 2011

      Sarah, Yes, one can really get a sense of time when looking at old photos. That’s one reason they are so fun to look at. It is sad there are so many women to remember isn’t it? Thanks for providing the quote. We do need a new movement to find answers and do better. Thanks for your comments.

  • Alli

    October 13, 2011

    I have to admit I am mortified of METS. After all the poking prodding & scans I know they are looking for something. I just don’t get it, why such disparity?? The attitude comes across that for Met patients it’s too late so why bother? The thing is if they could isolate the cells before they reach the stage of metastatis before they divide spread into the other organs, but it seems unreachable unless donations are equalized.

    • Nancy

      October 13, 2011

      Alli, Thank you for your thoughts and I know what you mean about that fear that never entirely goes away. I think you’re right about the message that is unintentionally given to those with mets. There simply must be more dollars spent on figuring out why certain cancers metastisize and others do not. The funding disparity is really a sad commentary and it’s really not surprising so little progress has been made in mets research. This needs to change.

  • Laurie

    October 13, 2011

    I’m remembering too…thanks for sharing such a moving post and helping to raise awareness about mets.

    • Nancy

      October 13, 2011

      Laurie, Unfortunately there are many to remember. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I am what you might call driven to raise awareness about mets. We have a lot of work to do don’t we? Thank you so much for commenting. I hope you are doing well.

  • Betty

    October 13, 2011

    Loved the pictures. Those people we love are never forgotten.

    • Nancy

      October 14, 2011

      Betty, Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and you’re right, loved ones are never forgotten.

  • Donna Peach

    October 14, 2011

    Wonderful post that says what so many of us feel. I too am spending the day thinking of those whom we have lost to breast cancer and tweeting and FBing to remind others. Maybe our voices out here will sing in harmony to ears that might listen.
    Love and hugs,
    donna peach

    • Nancy

      October 14, 2011

      Donna, Thank you so much for reading my blog and commenting. Thanks for spending the day tweeting and FBing to remind others about mets. Let’s all keep at it! Hope to “see” you again, Donna.

  • I am so, so sorry for your loss Nancy and agree wholeheartedly with the points you make about funding and awareness of MBC. Thanks for sharing these pictures – it was wonderful to get a glimpse into your “other life”. I had that exact same 80s hairstyle, those very same earings and stripey shirt too ;-)

    Your Mom looked like such a lovely lady and it’s wonderful that she got to enjoy her role as grandma and her grandchildren got to share her for the time that they did.

    • Nancy

      October 14, 2011

      Marie, Thanks so much for your kind words. I know you are in agreement about the lack of attention and funding for mets. Yes, the 80′s styles were really something weren’t they? It’s great fun to look at old photos and see how we used to look and what we used to wear. I know I am very lucky that my mom did get years to enjoy her grandma role. I am very aware that many women with bc don’t get the chance to be a grandma, see the children grow up or even have children of their own at all. So much loss.

  • AnneMarie

    October 15, 2011

    Nancy,
    I am so saddened to read about what happened to your mom. Thank you for sharing this. I’m on board with you. We need to unlock what makes some cancer cells move and make big trouble and why others will just stay put or go away (with the help up slash burn poison). I know we are like minded in that all of this pink upsets us because of our sisters who live with mets. That is buried under the sea of pink. Thanks for sharing your photos and your memories. We all need to be reminded that 40,000 is not a number. Each one of those represents a very special life. Clearly, your mom was one very special woman. It has to stop with us. I want BETTER for my daughter and I know all of us feel the same way. We will do this….

    Love,
    AnneMarie

    • Nancy

      October 16, 2011

      Ann Marie, Yes mets has been buried under the sea of pink for too long. That’s a very good way of putting it. Also, you’re so right the statistics are not just numbers, they represent very real people and very real losses. Everyone deserves better. Thanks for your comments and thanks even more for your passion.

  • Beth L. Gainer

    October 15, 2011

    Oh Nancy, I am so sorry for your loss of your dear mother. Your pictures say a thousand words, and you have a simply beautiful family.

    • Nancy

      October 16, 2011

      Beth, Thank you very much for your kind comments.

  • Ginny Marie

    October 16, 2011

    When my mother died, so many people could not wrap their heads around the fact that it was breast cancer in her bones and liver. I think there are a lot of people who just don’t know about what metastatic breast cancer means. It’s not about saving the “boobies.” It’s about saving lives! This post is so similar to the one I have written in my head…thank you for actually publishing it! :)

    • Nancy

      October 17, 2011

      Ginny Marie, I think you are right. There seems to be a disconnect of sorts between early breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer. I think many people don’t understand mets at all and that’s a real failure on the part of all the awareness campaigns in my view. You’re so right, it’s about saving lives, or it should be. Thanks so much for commenting. I’m sorry about your mom.

  • pinkunderbelly

    October 18, 2011

    Nancy, I have tears in my eyes reading this! Your mom looks like she was such a lovely woman, and I know her absence is a huge hole in your life. I will remember her and I will keep spreading the word about MBC. Our daughters deserve better.

    • Nancy

      October 18, 2011

      Nancy, Thank you so much for your kind words. I know you understand too well. Our daughters do deserve better. All women do. Thanks for helping to spread the word about MBC.

  • Laura Russell

    October 21, 2011

    Nancy,
    My mom died of MBC- My eyes teared up seeing how your mom has her arm nice and tight around your daughter’s waist. My mom didn’t know my kids.

    MBC is a hard sell, can’t be sexualized. I haven’t seen save the ta-tas merchandise. It’s offensive.

    Keep going with your commentary. For me, it’s soothing!

    • Nancy

      October 21, 2011

      Laura, I’m very sorry about your mom and yes, I am very grateful my mom got to know her grandchildren and that they got to know her. I understand the loss you and your children have. You’re right, mbc is a hard sell, it doesn’t fit in with the pretty pink that is so pervasive. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and again, I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Betty

    February 7, 2012

    Just had to look at the pictures again. Hard to believe it will soon be four years. The last couple of years before she died, I remember coming home from work and hearing her voice on my answering machine, “Call me as soon as you get this. I need to talk to you.” I would call right back, and we would talk. I dream about your Mother often, also my Mother. We will always miss them.

    • Nancy

      February 7, 2012

      Betty, It’s interesting you dream about them. I don’t recall ever really dreaming about them. Do you find that comforting or upsetting? You’re right, of course, we will always miss them. Thanks for taking another look at the photos. And yes, it’s hard to believe it’s almost been four years…

  • Betty

    February 10, 2012

    It is very comforting. In my dream WE laugh and talk. One morning when I woke up I started hurrying to get up as I was sure Mother was in the kitchen waiting to have coffee with me! It was so real. In my dreams with Susan we are vacationing like we did in real life. My dream life has always been very rich, in color. But I’ve had reoccuring dreams that are dreadful too. They are about a place, not a special person.

    • Nancy

      February 10, 2012

      Betty, Those dreams sound really lovely. I often think about all the coffee we drank at grandma’s kitchen table. I can still see that kitchen so clearly in my mind. Glad you have nice dreams about your friend, Susan. Of course, the dreadful dreams, you don’t need those. Hope they happen infrequently.

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