An analogy for me the challenge is that I will never be able to ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death” like Stage 0-3 breast cancer patients can. If you are a Stage 0-3 cancer patient, you will walk through that valley and come out on the other side. Yes, you will be tortured, but you will come out on the other side and wear the pink sash that says “Survivor” on it. The Stage Four people will continue to walk around in the shadow of death and stay there. Maybe 2 years, maybe 20 years, who knows!!
There is no cure for mets, we feel like cast-offs in the pink ribbon world. The research funding is pennies on the dollar for Stage Four. Most of the research ‘pink’ money goes to Stage 0-3. These are the women that will survive. They are the ‘winners’ that will wear the pink sash. Not to put them down, I was one of them before I was re-diagnosed five years later with mets. What an eye opener to find myself on another planet. Our incurable condition will generate anxiety in those around us, including Stage 0-3 cancer patients. Which means, we are avoided. It’s best to stay with our mets groups and not hangout with other ‘regular’ breast support groups.
There are certain things you never say to a mets person. For example, When will you be done with treatment? The answer is NEVER. At least until I die or the options have run out. Don’t tell me I have to stay positive. Think about what you’re saying. I just got a brick in the face and I’m supposed to be positive about this??? Please don’t believe that there is a cure for mets as this is a mistake. Don’t use military type words such as “keep fighting”. Less than 5% can turn into long term ‘survivors’. With odds like, I don’t think I’d lay my money down. Don’t ask me if I smoked, or if I took good care of myself, or about a miracle treatment from Mexico that will cure me. And no, I’m not happy I have a ‘good’ kind of cancer instead of a ‘bad’ one.
Please don’t tell me you understand, or that I can call you anytime if I need you. Odds are I won’t. But, the worst think to say to a mets person is “But, you look so good”. That one might get you a poke in the nose. We are in a state of “Quality of Life” with our oncology team. We will take medications (up to about 20 now) for our ‘type’ of cancer treatment and the effects. We will take pain medication for pain. We will probably not have surgery unless it improves our quality of life. If we are in good shape we can volunteer for clinical trials where we get to be the guinea pig. But, only if our quality of life is not sacrificed. This is where I’m at now. I live one day at a time. Facing ones mortality is not cool. But, some of us HAVE to wrap our brains around it and get a hold of ourselves. If we know we will live for 2 years then we will hop cruise ships and party down. But, what if we live 20 years? Then, we better keep working and making deposits into retirement accounts.
I am tired and in pain every day. After 33 rounds of medication and it’s side effects, I have a routine for now. I will keep going. I’m not fighting anything anymore; just walking through the valley, one foot in front of the other.
I enjoy walking four miles every day I can, yoga about 3 times per week, hanging with friends and family when possible. I’m from the Seattle area and the guy I date is still there (I’m outside DC). We try to get together at least once a quarter. I guess you could say I’m in a long term relationship. Now that my kids are grown, marriage, and all that goes with it, is not as important. I love my church and sing in the choir, volunteer for USO, and work full time. My daughter lives here in Virginia, about a half hour away. My son is in Texas and comes home when he can.