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Marking Time Again – Seven Years

Seven years have now passed since my mother died from metastatic breast cancer. I choose to mark time here on the blog each March not because I am looking for sympathy, but because I want to continue talking about the lives taken by  breast cancer, not just my mother’s life, but all of them. I mark time to honor not only my mother, but all women and men who have died from this wretched disease. And sadly, there are many. Too many.

Seven years have now passed since my mother’s death. Seven years. That’s 2,555 days.

My dad has always been a man of few words, but when he speaks, people pay attention because what he has to say is always worth listening to. Sometimes I think he has grown quieter still since my mother’s death. But that would make sense I guess. He’s now been alone, without his wife, for seven years. 2,555 days. When you’re alone, you become quieter in a lot of ways.

Again, I mark time not looking for sympathy, but because I want to stress once again that each year some 40,000 women and men die from metastatic breast cancer in the US alone.

This means in seven years 280,000 more have died.

The numbers are astounding to me.

Besides my dad, how many other spouses or partners have been impacted? How many other families like mine have felt this pain? A lot. Too many.

So let’s stop pretending we’ve made dramatic progress. We haven’t. We’ve made progress yes, but dramatic; I don’t think so.

It’s so easy to forget that behind every statistic was a real person who led a very real life, with a real family and real friends. The numbers are not just numbers. The numbers represent people. Loved ones. Gone. Forever.

When someone you love dies from metastatic breast cancer, it changes you.

You carry on of course, but you do not forget.

You remember.

And you continue to mark time.

Thank you for helping me do that. Again.

We will not forget.

Visit my mets page for a list of organizations that support mets research and to learn more about what you can do to help others better understand metastatic breast cancer.

Breast cancer awareness without mets awareness, isn’t awareness at all.

Who do you mark time for?

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Always remembering my mom who passed away from mbc on March 6, 2008
My mother died from mbc on March 6, 2008. We will not forget.


My parents. I’m not sure how old this photo is, but it’s a favorite of mine.


My mom loved her grandma role (my daughter and oldest son)
Just being grandma, a role my mother loved.



12 thoughts to “Marking Time Again – Seven Years”

  1. I lost my mother on February 4, 1996. She did not die of MBC but always lived with the fear of an impending diagnosis. Her sister is a Breast Cancer survivor of almost 20 years, but is always afraid of the day that might come at any time that we all fear — recurrence. My mother was gone when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on February 14, 2006. I had grieved for her, I thought, as much as a daughter could grieve for her mother’s death but it really hit me hard when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I really needed her, she had been gone 10 years and 10 days. There have been so many times I have called out to her to receive some comfort, advice, information on the “beast” called Breast Cancer. She had walked through every day with her sister, caring and listening. Where was she when I needed her most? I have grieved now for almost 20 years, but the last 10 have been the hardest.

    My Father died on December 5, 2002. His death came as a much a shock, even though he had been ill for a long time with heart disease, but it was no less hurtful and a tremendous loss in my life. My dad and I had been very close all my life. He was at my bedside when I awoke from the Hysterectomy that was thrust on me at the age of 25. I was immediately placed on Estrogen Replacement Therapy (Premarin). I remember asking him who would have me now that I could not give a man the children he longed for. My Dad, a very wise and gentle man with me, just said the words I will never, ever forget. He said “If bearing his children is the reason for asking you to marry him, he is not worth marrying because he should be marrying you for YOU and the gifts you can give him other than a house full of children. I have lived my life with these conforting words and the most important words ever spoken to me. I walked in a fog for seven years after tgat surgery, denying my femininity in every way. I did not wear a dress in all that time, I could not hold a baby, I was terrified to be around children because I didn’t understand them, or so I thought but the real truth is I was terrified they knew my pain from losing my ability to have my own. My Dad gave me a beautiful gift that day, reinforcing my value as a person, but no one could reinforce my value as a woman but me. But where is he now, I have Breast Cancer and would give anything to have his support and gentle hand holding mine, but he is gone. I thought I had grieved as much as I could possibly grieve, but his absence hit me so hard the day I was diagnosed. Where was my Daddy now? I have lost everyone in my family before my diagnosis. My youngest brother died in his sleep at the age of 47, my older brother age 59 was taken by Lymphoma as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during one of his two tours in Vietnam. My sister, who had disavowed my existence for years passed away on November 8, 2011. She never even mentioned my Breast cancer, never asked me questions what to watch for in her life to catch the disease early in case she was stricken with it. I have been without family the entire time I have been cursed with this monster, and my friends , as close as I thought they were, left my life within three months after surgery. I didn’t understand it at first, but have since learned that their departure was no fault of my own, but their fear of their own mortality or that they might “catch it”. But it didn’t hurt any less.

    The death of my parents has been the most heartfelt loss of my life, not because of Breast cancer, but because they were such an influence on my entire life and I felt lost without them. My mother taught me to be a lady, a true Southern Belle, and taught me all of the proper social graces I use today in my life. My Dad, a Superior Court Judge , a large part of his illustrious career in law, taught me values I could never have learned otherwise. They were important to me and to my life and I miss them terribly and will until the day I pass away. I did not realize their importance until they were gone, unfortunately, but I had a deep respect for all they did for me during the time we had together. If I had one more day with them……. I would try to make them understand their important influence, and I would express my deep love for them and admiration for all they were to me. But I don’t have that opportunity, so I grieve still, every day on one level or another. If you are still fortunate enough to have your parents in your life now, take my advice and live each day as if it were your last, because when they are gone, they are gone, and I fear you may feel the regret I feel today for not doing more for them while they were alive. I would give most anything for just One More Day, just One More Day. Do I still grieve? You bet I do, and will until my end comes.

    My best to all,

    1. Fran, Thank you for sharing about both your parents. The words your dad spoke on that surgery day were so wise and so true. Grieving doesn’t just stop one day, so of course you still grieve for and miss your parents. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    It’s a good thing to mark time. Your mother meant so much to you, and it’s clear you weren’t writing this post to garner sympathy. Instead, you made a statement: death from MBC is unacceptable. I agree that we’ve done so poorly to address metastatic disease. People with mets get pushed under the carpet, while heroic images play to the media.

    The number of deaths in seven years is unimaginable to me too.

    I am so sorry that your mom is gone. No family should have to endure this.

    1. Beth, I think it’s good to mark time too. In fact, I think it’s essential to do so. There is so much hype out there about progress, but in reality if so many women and men are still dying from bc, how much progress have we really made? The numbers are still staggering. Thanks for reading and for helping me mark time.

  3. Nancy, I am sorry you lost your mom.

    I agree with you when you say we haven’t done enough to address MBc. Very limited treatment options, too.

    My family lost my great-grandmother to bc when she was 49 (she didn’t get to see her grand-children). I also lost my great-aunt to bc at the age of 59. There are two of us left in the family after bc but either of us can become stage 4 at any time and knowing how little options there are for stage 4 makes me sad.

    We have lost too many and the sad part is that the numbers don’t seem to call enough attention.



    1. Rebecca, Yes, we have lost too many as you well know, and the number of deaths hasn’t gone down much at all. At least more attention is being given to metastatic breast cancer these days, but it’s still not nearly enough. And the amount of dollars going to mets research is deplorable and to me, makes no sense at all. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I have hope that in my lifetime, we’ll start to see some sign of a real movement of change. It feels like a sleeping lion was poked and grumbled on Monday, and if we keep poking, we might luck out with a roar. In the memory of your mother and all those who have gone before us, in the hope of all of us currently now living with MBC, and for the futures of all those yet to come. Thank you for reminding people we’re not statistics, that this is real, and things matter.

    I’d wage a pretty penny that your mother, wherever she is now, is very proud of you.

  5. Hi Nancy! A beautiful post. Of course, you’re marking time. How can you not? Amidst all the breast cancer talk, we can’t forget that you (and I) mark time because, simply, this is your mother. Someone told me when my mother died, also in March, it’s one of the hardest losses someone can have. A presence in our lives that can not be replaced. We are no longer a daughter to a mother. That’s sad! The fact that our losses come from something that should have more research directed at it, just makes it that much worse. Your post is right on. Things need to change. Things have to be different, but I’m encouraged by this community, people like you that keep raising your voices to get more attention. You’re getting it. When my mother died from metastatic breast cancer 15 years ago, there was only silence. Thank you and hugs to you my friend!

    1. Stacey, Losing one’s mother is one of the hardest losses for sure and it breaks my heart that so many young children lose their mothers to mbc. And your boys missed out on knowing their grandmother’s special love. It’s all terribly sad. I’m somewhat encouraged, too, because there does seem to be more talk about mbc these days. But until there’s more money going into research we won’t get too far. I remember that your mom died in March too. I’m sorry. And 15 years, gosh, Stacey, what can I say? Hugs back to you dear friend. Thank you for sharing today. Means a lot.

  6. I mark time for my mother, who died of lung cancer in Nov. 2004. I can’t believe it’s been over ten years since I last heard her voice and saw her smile.

    Thanks for bringing mets to the foreground. We need more advocates like you who really get it. I still get upset when people know I am stage IV metastatic but still ask me when I will be done with treatment (meaning entering remission, not going to hospice). We need more education, but often I get tired of being the one with a poor prognosis who has to educate. xox

    1. Jan, I know what you mean about contemplating how long it’s been since you heard your mom’s voice and saw her smile. Time continues on as it should, but we do not forget and we continue to mark time. And I will try to keep advocating when I can. I’m sure you do get tired of trying to educate. It must be exhausting trying to explain the realities of mets, especially when the information doesn’t seem to sink in. Thank you for sharing. xx

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