Tears are flowing freely. A friend of a friend. The girl who died last night was the friend of a friend. She was someone in whose company I had been many times over the past twenty years. She was always more than an acquaintance but it wasn't until I got The Phone Call, "I am really uncomfortable asking you this BUT...." And I knew. And I said, "Someone has breast cancer." It was less than two years ago. And we all went out for dinner. She was on the runaway train and that was when the bonds of our friendship were sealed. She went through surgery, chemo.... Post treatment scans clean at the three month mark and clean again at the six month mark.
NED. NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE.
And last spring, it spread to a bone, one spot on ONE bone. And in eight months, she is gone. It was aggressive and it didn't respond to any cocktail of drugs. One round in a clinical trial and the brain mets were found. When she had trouble breathing, they drained the fluid from her lungs. Scans then revealed new spots on her bones and in her liver. WHILE on all sorts of chemo drugs. In three months when they were attempting to address one spot on one bone, it metastasized.... No screw that word. It SPREAD. It spread to every single place where breast cancer likes to go.
She was 39 years old. Her daughter is 7 or 8. Her significant other was amazing. He found every possible study, he spoke to her doctors when she could not, he took care of her.
Last evening, as this horrific scene was unfolding in a hospital, I went to honor the memory of another young woman. Many of the bloggers and the twitter/facebook gang know about Angelo Merendino and his photographic journal of the battle they did not choose. His wife, Jen, died last month. His photos were on display and they are beautiful and bittersweet...... the photos that always got me were those I could relate to best. I know those gowns. I know those rooms. I recognize the curtains and the equipment. We were both treated at the same hospital. This triptic is powerful. Almost life size in the exhibit, surrounded by many other photos, all in black and white......
And then, there is Susan. Another brilliant young woman... Not yet 40 years old with two small children and a devoted husband. Her most recent blog post is exceptionally poignant. There are 500 comments under that post. There are people around the entire globe praying for a miracle and understanding the reality.
The text I got an hour before my friend died? "She is out of it now. We are all just waiting. So heartbreaking. (They are) saying another day or so."
It's tragic and it's horrific. These three women deserved better. We had an entire lifetime to do better for them. Their lifetimes. We have failed and we have failed horribly.
Breast cancer's dirty little secret. Women don't die of breast cancer any more. Really?? I beg to differ. And we shouldn't be watching anything like this unfold. We shouldn't be hoping for miracles. We should be demanding a cure. We must do better. They deserved better. Their loved ones deserved better. Failure can no longer be an option.