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Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Posted 10/18/2013

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  One of the biggest blessings in my life is my Monday morning group for women with advanced cancer. It is always mostly full of women with advanced breast cancer although others are surely welcome and embraced. Once a cancer is metastatic, the issues are surely the same, and the feelings envelop us all. Right now, there are two women who have Stage IV (and, if you are confused by the changing vocabulary here, advanced=metastatic=Stage IV) lung cancer, and they are our sisters, too.

  This has been a tough stretch for us with several deaths over the past months. Amy, a terrific woman who "used to be a  yuppie lawyer" and decided to make a major life change and return to Divinity School, is a member of this group. She writes beautifully and sent me this today, said it was fine to share.

  With gratitude for her words and her presence:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day October 13


I usually just lay low for the entire month of "Pinktober," but this year I feel a need to be more vocal.

My new avatar is a mandala I colored and sent to a friend in my in-person group who has reached the end of the line after 10 years of living with MBC. And live she did! Even now, in her last few days on this plane of existence. So full of life, such a wonderful, sparkling presence, so heartbreaking to have to say goodbye.

It's hitting me hard this year to look back and see how many beautiful souls have left us. I miss them and I ache for their families, and it reminds me that I, too, have a rendezvous with death that I can't avoid. When it comes, I'm sure I'll be OK, but I know others will be hurt.

It's insoluble, the human dilemma. The only way to be hurt is to be vulnerable, but it's also the only way to be fully alive. We were put here to love one another, and that inescapably includes the risk of loss.

I want people to know that breast cancer is not a "good" cancer. I want them to know that a substantial number of people are living with MBC and that, little by little, cancer makes their worlds smaller and more difficult and more painful. It's a blessing to have companions on the journey, but ultimately we all do the last bit alone. Let's hold hands and love each other and sing as long as we can.


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