Yesterday was my 41st birthday! Usually I start the month of October off with many birthday posts. The most common, “It’s my Birthday month” It has been a running joke for years about what a big deal I make about my birthday or birthdays in general. This year it feels different, and to be honest I have not been looking forward to this birthday at all. 40 was such a big mile stone for me, after battling breast cancer for 13 years and being told on several occasions I wouldn’t make it to 40, I made a HUGE deal about the big 4-0.
But as 41 was approaching I felt something change. The tinker tape parade I so badly wanted last year was not what I envisioned this year. Actually I wanted to forget it, no cake, no candles to blow out, no gifts, or hoopla over turning 41. I have been sitting on this for a few weeks and have been trying to make sense of why this year feels so different? Now this is where I get real honest. Truth is, I have been so wrapped up in a number and a new year that it is scaring me to get older. It is scaring me that I know my life seems to have an expiration date on it. Now I know how ridiculous this sounds to most, but for me, living with metastatic breast cancer, there is no cure. Do I fully BELIEVE in those words, HELL NO, because that would mean a piece of me is giving up, which I AM NOT! However, my reality is that of a 41 year old woman living with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), and at this point, they don’t have a cure.
It is estimated that 41,400 people (40,920 women and 480 men) will die from breast cancer this year, with metastatic breast cancer causing the vast majority of those deaths. The 5-year survival rate for women with metastatic breast cancer is 27 out of 100 (27%) and for men it is 20 out of 100 (20%). These statistics are just a part of the reason numerous oncologists have told me to get my affairs in order over the last thirteen years. They are not intended to scare anyone, instead they are to shed light on why I am so passionate about raising awareness of MBC and why turning 41 with MBC is so scary. One of the reasons we decided to share a “month in my life” here on Fabulously Fighting during October was to provide some insight into what living with MBC looks like. I do my best to truly live my life and to not let cancer define who I am or what I do. The reality is, that cancer is very much a part of my every day life. From daily oral chemo, to time in the soqi bed, to monthly scans, to terrible nerve pain to eating the best whole foods and supplements to support my body, I live with MBC every day.
Earlier this week, I went to the doctor for what I thought was a sinus infection. I found out that I do, in fact have an infection, but also that my white blood cell count is extremely low. Having been on varying doses and types of oral chemotherapy for pretty much the greater part of thirteen years, this news isn’t terribly surprising, but it is new and spurred on by the infection. This discovery has really made me start thinking more about the reality of living with MBC. Along with this not so great news, there also has been the formation of an amazing partnership this week with The Tiger Lily Foundation. Instead of focusing on the negative of this week, being proactive with The Tiger Lily Foundation and becoming an Angel Advocate is helping me to focus on the positive impact we can have on the MBC community.
While MBC is the leading cause of death among women and breast cancer fighters, it is also the most underfunded when it comes to research. If we cure Stage 4, WE CURE IT ALL. I am hopeful that through my work with Fabulously Fighting, the soon to be formed Fab Foundation and The Tiger Lily Foundation that we can continue to bring awareness, insight, and funding to those living with MBC.
Even though I have not welcomed 41 with open arms, I will continue to make the best out of my circumstances. It is my mission for MBC to be at the forefront of research, funding, and education. We are all in this together and Fabulously Fighting isn’t just a movement it is how we live our lives.
SO my Fabulous Fighters 41 may not be a tinker tape parade but it sure will be a year to collect some beautiful moments.
Wrapping you all in Fabulous Light and love,