It seems like almost every day lately I hear of a breast cancer sister who has died before her time. It creates a stark contrast to some of the ridiculous breast cancer awareness shenanigans like October 13′s Take Off Your Bra Day. The image is of a “sexy” woman with her bare back towards us waving her little bra in the air. With a brazen lack of knowledge and empathy, someone had the wise idea of having it the same day as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Don’t get me started. I will refrain from ranting.
I mourn each passing, and it would be easy for me to be in a constant state of anger and depression about the unfairness of it all. That would not help me or the people I support. I must carry on and live with hope.
Thank God I am in the process of writing my new book, Miracle Survivors. Almost every day I get to interview amazing people who are beating the odds of advanced cancer. Today I spoke with Glenine Gregory-Ryan, a stage IV breast cancer survivor, who was told she had months to live back in 2001. She has shown no evidence of disease since 2002. Glenine has a marvelous sense of humor, an infectious laugh. and an unstoppable determination to be around for many more years to come. And then there’s Greg Cantwell, who was diagnosed in 1994 with glioblastoma multiforme, the most deadly of all brain cancers with an average life expectancy of less than 1 year. He is doing great and with no evidence of disease and has created an organization to help fellow survivors.
There are so many deaths, but there are people who make it. Also people are living longer with metastatic disease thanks to new treatments. I’m an example of that. I think people need to hear that it’s possible, especially when doctors and statistics tell them otherwise. Everyone is different, and some people do everything right but have really hard-to-treat cancers and eventually die. But just to know there are people out there surviving and thriving offers a glimmer of hope. If there is a 5 percent chance of survival; who’s to say I can’t be part of that 5 percent?
So I’m focusing on the future and assume I’ll be around for a while. I painted and reorganized my home office, so I’ll have a nice place to work on my book. Last night, my husband and I went to a college preparedness conference to help plan for our daughter Chrissy’s journey toward higher education. I’m focusing less and less on preparing for death and more on the present and future. Besides we already have our burial arrangements covered. I choose to believe there is hope.