Today is the ONE day during Breast Cancer Awareness Month allocated to those of us who are Stage IV. When I was diagnosed, I was astonished to learn that we get one day. We are dying 365 days of the year, 24/7, and we get ONE day in all of October?!
Frankly, it feels like just one more slight, one more way that the powers that be can sideline those of us who are the elephant in the room. By being present, we remind everyone of their mortality. By being present at the table when breast cancer is discussed, we remind those who want to categorize breast cancer as the easy cancer, that there is a dark side. By being vocal, we make lots of people uncomfortable. By asking that someone pay attention, we force others to be reminded of their own mortality.
I get it.
No one wants to think about mortality; how everyone alive will inevitably die. It is a rare person who is comfortable with the subject of death, with the subject of mortality, with the subject of even preparing for death.
I get it. I wasn’t all that comfortable before breast cancer either.
I get it. It’s not fun to stare death in the face and yet keep on living.
I get it. It’s uncomfortable because what’s after death is an unknown to many.
I get it. Hard things are not easy to face or talk about.
I get it. Our culture does not give us the language to use.
I get it. Our culture takes death and the process of dying and hides it away.
It’s not that I don’t get why it’s hard. It’s just that I don’t have the luxury of a healthy person to look away from my own life. It is my existence all the time and I have no break.
For just a moment, I would ask you to close your eyes and think about how it feels to be in my shoes. Death is my dark companion (as Dexter used to say); it is the sword of Damocles hanging over my head 24/7/365; it is the dark cloud threatening to smother any laughter and joy in my life; it is always in my mind; it is always lurking just around the corner; I am reminded every single day as my friends die, that I may be the next announcement. There is no escaping the idea that death is coming sooner for me than I’d expected. It is the bus that already ran me over, I’m just on life support until the certain end.
I don’t need a day.
I don’t need a month.
I don’t need recognition.
These things aren’t for me, not for my life, but for the understanding that this is my life, that MBC is real and it is entirely different from the other stages. That it WILL kill me. I won’t die of old age, I will die because of breast cancer.
There are two things happening tonight that I would ask you to consider attending/watching.
First, I will be featured through the Winter Park Health Foundation and the Center for Health and Wellbeing in a live presentation about my story and my efforts to support others living with MBC. You can access the registration page here.
Secondly, Metavivor has partnered with the #LightupMBC campaign established by Moore Fight Moore Strong to work with landmarks all over the US to light up in pink, teal, and pink to raise awareness about those of us living with MBC. I’ll be going live on various platforms to highlight the landmarks here in Miami who are participating along with friends and family. I’ve also created an event, which you can access here. To check out the #LightupforMBC team’s livestream, click here.
And now you know more about living with MBC and the dire need for awareness of the only stage that is terminal.