Yesterday I had my penultimate chemotherapy for secondary breast cancer. Mid-way results showed that treatment is working, so a scan in August should show more shrinkage or stability, and then, I get a chemo break until such time that the cancer starts growing again. It’s a waiting game, and you’re told to enjoy life and get on with it, which is exactly what I plan to do, only the voice inside the back of your head keeps whispering that you’re on borrowed time and this chemo break won’t be forever.
My mets are small but extensive. (In lots of places). I’m unlucky that my cancer is her2 fuelled which means the cells multiply much faster. It’s a scary horrible cancer to have yet there is an antidote for it, or at least a treatment which I’m lucky to be able to have and that’s through an Iv drip every 3 weeks for the rest of my life. This is a lifeline, a drug that should help keep the cancer at bay allowing me chemo free time.
Living with this disease is depressing. You are naturally curious to check up on your friends and social media buddies to see how they’re doing. Some are doing better than I, and some are dying in hospices or treatment has pretty much stopped working. Other friends have died along the way. I’ve lost count now, but at least 7 I knew personally. They were young women with families like me who didn’t deserve to die of breast cancer.
Sometimes I wish I died instantly and I’m envious of people who are unaware of their impending death. Nobody apart from those of us going through it has any idea what it’s like to know you are dying in your 20s and 30s, and it’s just as bad if not worse for the ones who love you who have to watch you fade away over time. This doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for life, but I want you to know it comes at a huge price. The black cloud of death follows you around everywhere even when the sun is shining and you’re surrounded by amazing people laughing and joking, death is always on your mind.
Perhaps it’s too late for us. But who will stop young women like me dying in the future? We are mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. Currently 12 thousand of us are dying every year and it’s only going to get worse.
Early diagnosis is important, as is being vigilant and knowing what to look for. Much of the funding is put aside for the above. But I’m here to tell you that unfortunately,early diagnosis does not mean you will beat it. It doesn’t mean it won’t come back and it doesn’t mean it won’t spread via your lymphatic system or through the blood stream. It doesn’t matter if you are super fit, or if you eat clean. It doesn’t matter if you are happy or you’re super positive all the time. Nobody knows why it comes back and why some of us die of cancer and others don’t. Don’t we deserve to know why?
I pray for a future where nobody dies of breast cancer, and nobody has to say goodbye to their parents and their children too soon.
All I ask is please don’t forget about us, and regardless of the scary statistics, we need more support, more awareness and more money raised so that secondary breast cancer will one day no longer be an early death sentence.