It’s November 1st and we can finally turn the page on the “month-that-never-seems-to-end.” Many cities and towns in the northeast ended the month with a snow storm and lots of power outages and damage from downed trees. (I was fortunate – my power went out for only 4 hours. There are some homes still waiting for power that went out 72 hours ago!) They are minor annoyances in the big scheme of life, but difficult, nonetheless.
Now, however, with another “Pinktober” behind us, it’s time to return to focusing on the reality of metastatic breast cancer. Approximately 3,500 women and men died from breast cancer in this country during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2011. For their families and friends, Octobers to come will be filled with bittersweet memories, not feel-good walks and ribbons and yogurt tops, but thoughts of their loved ones who passed from this life before the “cure” we hear so much about became a reality for them. Unfortunately for women and men with metastatic breast cancer, “awareness” does not equal “cure” and there will be stinging reminders of that fact, especially in October, until there is a cure for breast cancer.
Last evening, as I do most evenings, I checked bcmets.org to read the day’s posts. (If you haven’t been to the site, it is a great place to get to know others dealing with metastatic breast cancer. The women [and a few men] who post on the site come from all parts of the world and are an amazing source of information, advice and support.) The subject of one of yesterday’s posts was “Good-Bye.” Sadly, the post was from one of our frequent posters, “Angela from CT.” She was telling us that her physicians have stopped her treatments. She was at home with hospice care and has only a few weeks to live. She thanked us for our support, friendship and love. Of course, there were many replies from others, but what can you really say when you are saying good-bye for the last time.
Every once in a while, the women who post on bcmets.org will suggest a get-together for others on the “list” who live in the same geographic location. Last summer, Angela was the driving force behind a New England gathering. She offered to host the luncheon at her home. We all brought something, but she and her wonderful husband did most of the cooking. It was a cool and sunny August day – perfect for loving life and enjoying one’s blessings. Eight women came together – all with our war stories, all at different points in our lives and disease, but all grateful for the gift of the friendships we had formed that day. Angela had been through the most treatment, yet she had a smile that wiped away the pain of what she had faced or would face in the future.
Angela and I really connected that day and we stayed in touch by email, separately from bcmets.org. Of course, after reading her farewell post, I was devastated by her news. I met her only once at our lovely summer luncheon at her home, but I will remember her for the rest of my life. Her strength, courage and grace will be in my heart forever.
I remember someone once giving me a framed sentiment that some people are in our lives for a long time, but some pass through our lives for a very short time, yet have the biggest impact. For me, Angela is that person. I met her when I was less than a year into my mets journey, but her example showed me that it is, indeed, possible to walk our walk with grace and dignity. I will never forget Angela’s hospitality, warmth and welcoming smile. I am honored to have known her.
Yes, October is over and reality has returned.
Don’t Stop Believing!