October 13th is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
I’m passionate about raising awareness about metastatic breast cancer. For me it’s very personal.
I lost my mother to metastatic breast cancer in 2008. I lost my friend Rachel earlier this year. I’ve lost others I care about as well. Sadly, I’m not alone. Many of you have lost loved ones to metastatic disease as well and perhaps you are even stage IV yourself.
Every time I hear about another stage IV breast cancer diagnosis or that someone’s cancer has metastasized, it feels personal all over again because to me it is.
One reason I hesitate to publish posts on metastatic breast cancer is because I am not living with it myself, so of course I don‘t really know what living with it is like.
While it’s true I’m not presently living with mets, I also realize this could change at any given moment. I know my family gets nervous when I talk about such things, but this is reality. This possibility is generally pushed to the back of my mind. I don’t dwell on it, but I do think about it from time to time.
Of course, I do know a lot about metastatic breast cancer from a daughter’s point of view and from a friend’s point of view, but I know this is nothing like living with a stage IV diagnosis yourself.
So sometimes I do ask myself if I really have a right to speak out or write about it.
Is it my place?
As I’ve mentioned before, another reason for the hesitancy many feel about speaking out about metastatic breast cancer is fear.
Part of this fear involves fear of offending those living with metastatic disease. No one wants to step on toes or unintentionally dampen anyone’s hope.
Part of this fear many feel also comes from the old “If we don’t talk about it, maybe it’ll just go away, or at least we don’t have to deal with it,” mentality which of course, in the long run helps no one.
And many people prefer to hear or talk about only the ‘pinktified’ stories; you know, the brave-warrior-happy-ending kind.
Those are easier to hear. I get that.
Despite the uncomfortableness many feel regarding the open discussion of metastatic disease, I’ve come to realize along with so many others, we desperately need to discuss metastatic breast cancer.
In fact we must talk about it.
We can and should speak out from whatever vantage point we’re coming from.
Bringing metastatic breast cancer out of the closet should be a primary goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It hasn’t been in the past.
This is changing, though admittedly it’s changing too slowly. We need to speed things up.
This is why I choose to speak about metastatic breast cancer, and not just on one day or in one month. This is why so many others do as well. Every voice matters.
It’s why I will continue to advocate for breast cancer awareness that includes awareness of metastatic breast cancer.
I will remind others whenever I can that yes; there are things to celebrate during October.
However, there are also many reasons to not feel quite so celebratory; the main one being the fact that despite the “pretty in pink picture” pink ribbon culture continues to paint, there are still 40,000 deaths from metastatic breast cancer in the United Sates alone and close to 500,000 globally.
And yes, we need to care that this is a global issue.
It continues to greatly distress me whenever I hear someone living with metastatic disease say they feel lonely, isolated, depressed, left in the shadowy fringes of Pinktober, or worse completely erased.
I’m saddened when those in greatest need of support feel so unsupported and unheard.
I’m angered when I hear about the minuscule amount of dollars being allocated for metastatic research, though change is finally in the wind here.
I’m frustrated when one measly day in October is set aside as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
We need to move beyond merely turning all things pink and slapping on pink ribbons.
We need to move beyond awareness.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month should focus on the entire spectrum of this disease, including metastatic breast cancer.
And one day in October is not enough.
Not even close
Note: Visit my mets page for more information about metastatic breast cancer.
Always remembering my mom, Rachel and all the others known and unknown to me as well.
What is something you want people to know about mbc?
If you are living with mbc, do you ever feel isolated, alone or “written off”?
Who are you remembering?