The month of October is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness – you know this because everything is pink or has a pink ribbon on it. But I think we are all aware of breast cancer. Ask the person beside you at work, at school, or on the go train and see if they’ve heard of breast cancer. I can almost guarantee you that they have.
But if you ask them if they’ve heard about Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), chances are they haven’t. Shit, I didn’t know about it until March of last year when I was diagnosed with it.
That is why during the month of October, I have been posting a fact a day about Metastatic Breast Cancer on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. Many of the comments I receive indicate just how little people know about this disease. But I don’t expect you to know a lot about MBC. It isn’t really discussed anywhere. Most of the messaging during October is about early detection… but being diagnosed and treated early doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Around 30% of women diagnosed with stage i – iii will eventually become metastatic, meaning breast cancer will take their life.
Perhaps it is too scary to discuss MBC and it’s much easier to focus on those who found their breast cancer early, had it treated and go on to live an otherwise normal life. Those are the stories all of the pink ribbon campaigns want to share – their awareness initiatives have worked! But they haven’t, because too many women continue to have their lives cut way too short because of breast cancer.
The focus has to change and it starts with today – October 13: Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. While one day is not enough, it is a start.
To support MBC Awareness Day, Rethink Breast Cancer has developed a number of videos to support women living with this disease – from how to communicate about it with family and friends, to getting involved in clinical trials, to scanxiety, to finding your support group. I was pleased to be part of this new Live Laugh Learn Series and you can find the video I was part of (telling loved ones about your diagnosis) here along with the other videos in this series. Plus all the other awesome videos Rethink has done, including I Am Anna, a movie about a woman living with MBC.
Brief update about my health:
I have started my second round of Xeloda. The first round went pretty well. While my hands and feet did not blister, crack or get dry, my feet were quite painful on the last day of my first round. I equate it to the feeling of walking on broken glass – not fun, but worth it if this chemo works. My blood work after the first round indicates my liver enzymes are stable, which in theory means the metastases in my liver are also stable. Dr. Higgins is going to have me scanned after round 3 to get a true read on how Xeloda is working.
Thank you to everyone for continuing to send good vibes and encouragement. Having the support of so many family members and friends made me realize how much I had to be thankful for this past Thanksgiving weekend.