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Metastatic Breast Cancer, the Losses Keep Piling Up – Do I Scream or Do I Cry?

When my daughter and soon to be son-in-law  were helping me set up my blog a year and a half ago, I asked my daughter, “Do you think my blog’s name and heading – Nancy’s Point, A blog about breast cancer and loss, is really depressing?”

“Well, a little bit,” she answered honestly.

At the time, I asked myself well, how do you write about breast cancer and loss without it becoming too depressing? Is that even possible? How do you write about such serious matters in a way in which people might still want to read it?

I don’t know the answers. Back then I decided all I could do was tell the truth, my truth. That’s what I still try to do. I believe in truth telling, even when it’s hard and this week it’s really hard.

This week my truth is this:  I’ve been feeling like screaming, I’ve been feeling like crying and sometimes I’ve been feeling like doing both at the same time.

On the one hand, all I want to do is scream out at the injustice and cruelty of metastatic breast cancer. I want to say: scream:

I will no longer accept excuses for our lack of more humane treatments. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which killed the person, the cancer or the treatment.

I will not settle for minuscule amounts of funds raised being spent on metastatic breast cancer research – 2% is NOT enough!

I will not be satisfied with pink ribbons, and races and walks.

I will not be quiet when it seems as if breast cancer has become accepted, almost as if it is a normal thing.

I will not be quiet when breast cancer is portrayed as a fight you can win if you just stay positive and fight hard enough.

I will not accept that 40,000 deaths per year to breast cancer alone is true progress in this war that was declared on cancer forty years ago.

I am tired of being patient.

In the end, my discontent is not what matters. The facts of metastatic breast cancer matter. I hope you’ll visit the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network website and learn about some of them.

Sometimes during the past few days I did not feel like screaming.

Sometimes I felt like weeping and I did.

I wept for my mother and now for Rachel and Susan and also for Cheryl who passed away on January 15, 2012. I wept for all the women (and men) lost to metastatic breast cancer and the ones I know and do not know who will still be lost.

But weeping will not change things. Screaming in frustration will not change things.

We need meaningful action to change things.

If you are as appalled as I am about the 40,000 lives still being lost each year to metastatic breast cancer, please join in the discussion. Please visit METAVivor Research & Support, Inc.  for more information. Please join an Army of Women. Please donate to a charity that actually focuses on research. Please expect accountability from whatever charities you do donate to.

Please do not settle. Most importantly of all, please do not stay quiet.

Join me and so many others in expecting, no demanding more.

As Stacey from Bringing Up Goliath said in a recent post, “Don’t let it (the losses) be for nothing.”

Some days are for screaming. Some days are for crying. Some days are for both.

This is one of those days weeks.

Rachel’s family chose the following organizations as ones being worthy for donations made in her memory. If they are good enough for Rachel, they are good enough for me. Check them out.

Breast Cancer Action
55 Montgomery St, Ste. 323
San Francisco, CA 94105
METAvivor Research and Support Inc.
1783 Forest Drive #184
Annapolis, MD 21401

Remembering…

Always remembering my mom who passed away from mbc on March 6, 2008
Rachel Cheetam Moro (1970-2012) with her little dog Newman
Susan Niebur passed away from mbc on February 6, 2012
Cheryl Radford passed away from mbc January 15, 2012.

Who are you remembering?

How do you handle anger and sadness after loss?

32 thoughts on “Metastatic Breast Cancer, the Losses Keep Piling Up – Do I Scream or Do I Cry?

  1. Part of the irony for me about the timing of losing Rach & Susan right on the heels of the Komen meltdown is that I do believe that Nancy Brinker founded that organization with a similar sense of righteous anger. I think we need to harness the pain of our losses to re-set breast cancer research agenda and the inclusion of our metastatic sisters.

    Thank you for this post, Nancy. It expresses what a lot of us are feeling this week.

    1. Chemobabe, It does seem so ironic that these women were lost at this time when all the Komen hoopla has been going on. You’re absolutely right, our anger needs to be channeled even further into promoting the research agenda and the inclusion of our metastatic sisters. Only then will there be true awareness. Thanks for you comments.

  2. Thank you Nancy, for your candor, insight and for stating so eloquently what many of us, especially me, have been feeling *screaming * over the last week with respect to losing such amazing women and friends

  3. Great post and great comment by Chemobabe. Use the anger, use the loss, use the compassion you feel toward these women and others. I know it can be hard to write about pain sometimes, especially when the loss is so great. But we (those of us who aren’t dealing with the issues you face every day) are listening and it does matter. Thank you.

    1. Elizabeth, Thanks so much for reading and “listening,” Elizabeth. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. It is hard to write about some of this stuff, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Thanks for caring and saying it matters.

  4. These past few weeks have been the height of irony. I expressed my own frustration by screaming on my blog last Saturday, while we still had Rachel & Susan with us. Oh, irony of ironies…little did we know how soon we would lose them both, how much more urgent our screams would become.

    I believe that the Celtic notion of keening encompasses the way we feel — screaming and crying at once.

    I haven’t even been able to write anything since Monday. Thank you for expressing our shared feelings, my friend.

    xoxo, Kathi

    1. Kathi, I have not heard of that Celtic notion of “keening.” This week has been the perfect time for it that’s for sure; so much anger and so much sadness all rolled together. I know you’ll be writing again soon and when you do, you’ll have lots to say. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kathi. Thanks for sharing some of my sadness. It helps.

  5. Oh, Nancy, thank you for putting in words what I cannot right now. I am as outraged as you, and I wept, too, for the losses that keep mounting. It’s too much to bear, and I don’t know what to say. How can we, as a society, just keep allowing people to die while we do breast cancer walks and such and don’t pay attention to the fact that there’s hardly any money put toward research?

    Truth is, my heart is broken right now. I don’t know how many times we are going to see more people die from this disease, and we will. It never seems to stop, does it?

  6. You’re expressing what I’ve been feeling for 10 years, especially the last four after being diagnosed with metastatic cancer. I feel like I’m in a war zone, and I’m almost numb to it. Just this past year, I’ve lost about six friends – I cannot keep count anymore.

    My charity of choice lately has been the National Breast Cancer Coalition. They actually have a deadline 2020 to end cancer, although I hope they can find it sooner. It’s all about collaboration – putting the best scientists together.

    1. Tami, I usually don’t care much for the war analogies, but this week that is kind of what it feels like. The casualties keep mounting up. I know what you mean about feeling numb. I’m sorry for all the friends you have lost. I agree that the NBCC is another good charity to give to. I appreciate the fact they have set a goal/deadline. It’s at least something to shoot for. Thanks for commenting.

  7. This is wonderful Nancy. Cancer may have taken our champion screamer, Rach, but that just means the rest of us need to scream all the louder.

    And as a Celt, I agree with Kathi about keening. As I recover my strength from the shocks I find I am crying and screaming at the same time, it’s what i was born to do.

    1. Ronnie, Yes, Rachel was the “champion screamer.” I like that. We will just have to scream louder now won’t we? Cry and scream away, Ronnie! I know it’s a tough tough loss for you and Sarah both. Rachel and Sarah had something special. Thanks so much for commenting.

  8. Beautiful post, Nancy. I think you speak for a lot of us. It’s impossible to lose another person to this horrible disease and not be angry. I don’t know how anyone can think the current situation with breast cancer is acceptable. It’s not. What has changed in the last decades? Yes, we need to scream louder. Mourn our friends and then get something done. That’s the best we can do.

  9. Oh! Thank you for quoting Bringing Up Goliath. Those words were true 12 years ago when I wrote them and still today. Something has to change. Has to. xoxoxo

  10. Nancy, “First, you cry.” Then you scream. Then you act. Which is what you have done and continue to do. Bless you.

    I’m working on an essay about how to write about death without people rolling their eyes or instantly turning their eyes and minds elsewhere. (I’m trying to trick them into reading it with an intriguing headline, and then once they’re there, hook them.) I guess I’ve found that there is a cadre of people who get it, who can read about loss, and cry and scream but at the same time find beauty in our connection and fighting together (and celebrating the good times we have).

    I’m rambling -will go now. But this post moved me deeply. Inspired me. Thank you.
    Much love,
    Lori

    1. Lori, Thank you for your kind words about my post. Some topics are tough to write about aren’t they? It’s hard to know how much is too much sometimes. There are people who do get it and want to read about loss. I look forward to reading your essay. Of course you’re right, we cry, we scream and then we act or at least try to. Thanks for your insightful comments, Lori.

  11. I’m having a difficult time wrapping myself around this. It feels like our own vulnerability is gapping open. I have cried so often this past month. I cried again today.Likely I’ll cry again tomorrow. I’m just so F#@#@ng pissed off. There have been too many losses. How do we make people understand we don’t need or want the Band-Aid we want this festering wound to heal!!
    Love Alli x

  12. Oh, Nancy, keep staying on that soapbox. We need to keep hearing this message. It never gets old. My eyes are brimming with tears over the injustices of it all. These women’s lives were like a brief candle in the fire of time, gone before their flames could fully illuminate their personalities and goals. Gone long before their time. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of your mom and those three lovely women whom we will remember always.

    I’m remembering my mom, now, who died of lung cancer in 2004, from second-hand smoke. Anytime someone lights up near me, I literally run away, ready to weep.

    I handle anger and sadness by joining a cause and volunteering. I speak at many breast cancer events and serve on the board of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group to lobby Congress regarding lymphedema legislation. Helping other women has become paramount to me as I search for answers to this tragedy.

    Thanks for your incredible tribute.
    xoxo
    Jan

  13. Nancy, I just found your blog thru one of your Twitter followers and wanted to let you know that I’ll keep checking back, whether you’re screaming, crying or whatever. Your message needs to be heard. Lots of people want to avert their eyes from women w/advanced disease b/c it *is* so hard to swallow the truth. It’s much, much easier to dress things up in pink ribbons and smiles. Breast cancer is not a feel-good event. There is a small army of us that is slowly chipping away at the pink monolith. It’s happening. Not fast. Not in a satisfying way. But there are little glimpses of progress here and there. I try to be content with those, for now.

    1. Sarah, Thank you for finding my blog and taking time to make such supportive comments. It’s wonderful to know there are people like you out there who truly get it. “Breast cancer is not a feel-good event.” Thank you for stating what is or should be the obvious. Like you, I try to be content with glimpses of progress too, but sometimes it is hard…

  14. Nancy, thank you for continuing to post in the midst of your grief and loss for your friends. Not only do you give a voice to many of us dealing with bc, but your blog provides an excellent forum for us to comfort, support and uplift one another. We definitely need to lobby hard for a change to the status quo!

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