Friday, January 27, 2012

A LIFETIME OF FAILURES

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.

20 comments:

  1. AM, I'm so sorry to hear of this. And I'm sorry you have lost another friend.

    I have seen Angelo's photos on their blog; they are honest and beautiful and searing.

    I just read Susan's blog for the first time and will touch base there.

    This is scary stuff that no one signed up for. But band together we must.

    xoxo
    Renn

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  2. I am also so sorry to hear this, AnneMarie. You remind us all that life is fragile. I am going to make it a point today to think of all that I am grateful for.

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  3. I am so sorry that this happened. How could it happen? Life is so unfair. We need to do more, no question. Jan

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  4. Thank you for the kindness. I will be in the background on Sunday and Monday supporting MY dear friend. This is her childhood girlfriend and I can't IMAGINE how she feels. So upsetting.

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  5. AnneMarie, thoughts are with you, your friend and your friend of a friend who was so much more. They are also with the family and friends all of the women that you mentioned.

    I am so tired of hearing about the beautiful people who this bull shit disease are robbing the world from. Again, you're all in my thoughts,

    Katie

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  6. Thanks, Katie, I appreciate your thoughts and I am equal parts sad, angry and walking around with a bit of survivor guilt, too. And shock. I think I'm still in shock. Robbing the world and robbing children of their mommies..... Thank you again for thinking of me, AnneMarie

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  7. AnneMarie, this is heartbreaking. I really have no words, but I like your line about the no one dying from breast cancer anymore and it being a dirty little secret only we seem to know. So true and I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  8. Stacey,
    Thank you so much. Today was a difficult day and it was comforting to see your note this evening. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around something that feels so senseless after so MANY years. This one really hurt.
    xoxo

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  9. I'm sorry AnnMarie. I'm saddened by every loss to this wretched disease.

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    1. Thank you, Nancy. I, too, am so upset by everything about this disease.....

      So thankful for the support from you and so many others.....

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  10. I so appreciate you heartfelt & compassionate point of view. I am so sorry for the losses you ave experienced and for all the women whose lives were cut short. Sadly, I lost my best friend at 48 to a wickedly aggressive cancer in 2010 and back in 2000 I lost another very special friend at 38 to another wicked case. This is serious business and people need to look beyond the pink ribbons & the industry needs to focus on strategies for prevention as opposed to relying on early detection and of course find a real cure other than flooding a woman's body with toxins.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly (as do SO MANY of us) about the pink ribbons and the status quo. Early detection is just not good enough any more. We've been at that for too long.... Yes. Prevention is the answer. And a cure for those like my friend and yours who have such aggressive forms of the disease. Thank you, Judy.

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  11. Oh, AnneMarie...this is heart-breaking news. I know that part of what has driven me into this current limbo I'm in is the sheer exhaustion of these losses we all endure, and the knowledge that there are other wonderful women like Susan out there who are on the mets tightrope.

    Sending you much love & empathy. Yes, it hurts. It hurts us all. xoxo, Kathi

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    1. Kathi,
      It does hurt all of us..... what happens to one, happens to each of us..... thank you for your support... I really helps and it means so much to me.

      xoxo
      AnneMarie

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  12. Annemarie:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. There are no words, but your post says it all. Hugs and much love to you during this awful time.

    Debbie

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    1. Thank you Deb. What a remarkable group of women I have come to know! I appreciate your words.

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  13. I hate this disease, I hate that so many of us are getting it at younger and younger ages.

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    1. And I HATE that NOT NEARLY enough funding is going toward research. That has to change! Just added your blog to my list! Nice to make a new friend.

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  14. Dear AnnMarie,
    I am so, so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this. I am very sad for you, for your friend and her family and her daughter and everyone who knew and loved her. We have failed. My aunt died in 1994 of breast cancer . . . the statistics haven't really changed . . . the survival rates haven't really changed. What has changed is the politics and a language and message that surrounds breast cancer and has lulled far too many into a false sense of security that early detection (that is Komen's spin) will prevent breast cancer deaths. Their race for a cure campaign has delayed a cure - in my opinion - I believe they have made (through all their pink ribbons and claims that early detection is tantamount to a cure) have delayed a cure.

    I hope I haven't inappropriately politicized things in my response to your post. I am just so sorry for your loss and for the loss so many are facing now with her passing. And, I am angry. Angry that today, SGK took away funding from Planned Parenthood . . . a place where uninsured women get breast care, referrals for biopsies and imaging. I am simply angry because you are SO right, there is a dirty little secret and I believe that SGK is responsible for that.

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Your sharing this is so important because people need to know, people need to know that we have failed, that we have not done enough.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend's family.

    All the best,

    Lisa

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    1. Dear Lisa,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. Your words are not inappropriate in any way. They are truthful and they express exactly how I feel about this whole mess. If you poke around this blog, sometime in October, there is a blog entry "Progress, What Progress?" My mom was dx'd w/BC in 1987. Me? In 2006. Our treatment protocols including the chemo drugs. Identical. Oh, except for an IV drip.

      The status quo SUCKS and I hope this mess causes a self implosion on the parts of those who have held us back. I agree. We need to see some REAL change. I did an interview beside Dr. Love and I think I expressed that feeling when I was asked how I felt about all the pink.

      Love to you,
      AnneMarie

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