You Have Stage 4 Cancer! Hearing those words come from an oncologist or worse yet a well-meaning assistant would buckle anyone at the knees and cause them to burst into tears. For anyone that has ever had cancer it means that somehow you have breezed through stages 0-3 consciously or completely unaware that you even had cancer and now you are faced with what could be easily considered a death sentence.

A cancer diagnosis is a devastating turn of events in anyone’s life; a stage 4 diagnosis means that the cancer you have has begun to spread to other parts of the body, or lymph nodes, blood, brain, etc. Also called advanced stage or metastatic cancer it basically means that cancer has taken over and mobile able to travel and show its ugly results in any part of the body.

I recently spent time reading the stories from a number members of the Cancer Horizons community and amazed at not only the depth of their commitment to life but also the larger macro issues they face trying to stay alive even for another day. For all of the billions of dollars gathered for research annually, anything related to help Stage 4 cancer patients remains seemingly almost non-existent.

It is this obvious lack of attention in any of the major cancer funding circles that lead some of the national associations like www.metavivor.org as well as www.mbcn.org (Metastatic Breast Cancer Network) to find t-shirts with the words “I matter” and “Don’t Ignore Stave IV”. Other associations like www.cancer.org which is the American Cancer Society is also a champion for stage 4 cancer patients but unfortunately, as a non-profit their resources are limited.

Is there hope for stage 4 Cancer Patients? ABSOLUTELY! Even though these stories are few comparatively and some often describe them as miracles there are hundreds of stories of men and women defying all odds and recovering from a stage 4 diagnoses. Peggy B, Ginger J, Scott G, Debbie O, Art H, all had the privilege of getting the best news possible, NED (No Evidence of Disease) from a stunned doctor or medical staff. Whether its Stage 4 Breast Cancer, Stage 4 Lung Cancer, Brain, Liver, Colon or any form those special folks dealing everyday with late stage cancer deserve the best our research can deliver and not to be at the back of the bus.

Respect and Care for a Stage 4 Patient – If there is any group of individuals that have earned the right to be opinionated and heard it would be anyone that is dealing with a stage 4 diagnosis. They are very special people and I have come to admire and respect them for the extraordinary example they are of good works and never say die attitude. Even though often shunned by other cancer patients for the dread that a stage 4 diagnosis brings, they continue to fight for all cancer patients  and you can often hear them say things like:

“I will never walk out of the valley of shadows, I will remain here for 2 years or 20 without the expectation I will be free of cancer”

“Please don’t ask when I will be done with treatment, the answer is NEVER”

“My focus is quality of life so I can enjoy whatever time I have left with loved ones and those I choose to serve”

“I do not hide, brood in my bedroom, stay in bed for weeks (unless my health requires it), or spend every day crying. I live life with zest, joy and hope. My advocacy for MBC has brought me together with an amazing community of folks, all of us going through the same thing.

“There is no “done with treatment”, and yet we survive, we persevere, with smiles on our faces, love in our hearts and hopes of a cure.”

“My life has changed drastically. I was told at my job to stay home and get treatment, that I wasn’t needed.”

“The fact is everyone dies. The only difference is my estimated time to die is printed in black and white. Believe me that will change your life in about five seconds!!”

“The fact is everyone dies. The only difference is my estimated time to die is printed in black and white. Believe me that will change your life in about five seconds!!”

Increased funding for Stage 4 Cancer – It is critical that additional funding for research be obtained. It is not that the funds are not there it is that they are allocated to other types of cancer. To read these stories of men and women with stage IV cancer and to see their dedication to life and family makes me want to get much more involved. There are incredible advancements in the form of liquid biopsies or blood biopsies. These biopsies that start with just 2 vials of blood can accurately identify tumor DNA and then match an available drug to target specifically that tumor and what will fight it.

There is always room for hope but as a songwriter said one time ‘A little less talk and a lot more action” is what is needed to help this group and the 1,000’s behind them with help in the form of real funding, real progress and real solutions.

Kristi’s MBC Story

Denise’s MBC Story

Renee’s MBC Story

Rebekah’s MBC story

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