I take too much for granted. Because I am an over informed font of (mostly) useless information, sometimes I am stunned. Tomorrow is the one single day during the entire month of October, BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH that is devoted strictly to raising awareness of Metastatic Breast Cancer.
A show of hands? We are all aware that cancer can spread outside of the area where it began? Are we aware that a breast cancer patient whose disease has traveled outside the breast is still a BREAST CANCER patient? If the cancer decides, for example, to attack the brain, it's NOT brain cancer. It's breast cancer that has spread to the brain. Likewise, if a patient with lung cancer has a similar spread to the brain, it's NOT brain cancer. It's LUNG cancer that spread to the brain.
Why is this important? Quite simply, when cancer spreads, I generally hear things like, "First it was breast cancer, now she has lung cancer and bone cancer." There was a tweet chat the other night and the topic was metastatic disease. In the old days, we would simply say, "It spread." Maybe we need to just get off the big words and go back to basics.
While the pink banners are flying and the balloon arches are floating and the ribbons are pinned everywhere, MBC is pink, too. It's the pink that is on the bottom of the pile. It's buried. These aren't the feel good stories. These are the patients living in pain.
These are the ones who will whisper to only their closest friends, "I have never been so afraid of anything in my entire life. I don't want to die." These are words that were recently repeated to me because some (many?) MBC patients prefer to close out most of the outside world.
And, these are the words that were spoken by a few during that online chat on Monday night: