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Living with Advanced Breast Cancer

Posted 7/25/2013

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  There is so much to be said and so much to learn about living with advanced/metastatic/Stage IV breast cancer. One of the obvious statements is that this is a subject that most people try hard to avoid--not just average people in the world, but also women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. In the beginning, we all want to/need to believe that we can be cured and go on to have long and healthy lives. The reminder that the reality may be different is sometimes too hard to hear.

  I have an incredibly wonderful weekly group for women living with advanced breast cancer. We meet every Monday morning, and it is the best possible way for me to begin the week. They are articulate, thoughtful, sometimes brutally honest, very loving and supportive of one another. Trying to find the right balance between planning for the worst and hoping for the best is challenging. What works one day, or even one moment, may not work the next. The diagnosis takes over every moment and simulataneously is denied every moment. It is impossible to live in the glare of unrelenting remembering, but it's there. I think that the most important thing these women do for another another is bear witness to that struggle.

  Several other times, I have referred you to Lisa Adam's blog about living with metastatic breast cancer. As the mother of three young children, she is living a painful nightmare--yet she is living well. There is a cliche about the only life worth living being an examined life. She has that. Here is an excerpt from a recent blog and a link to read more:

“Too painful to think about” is something others can afford to say or
think about those like me.
But I cannot. My body does not let me.
Perhaps having hair, looking healthy, betrays me.
Perhaps people forget what my body is enduring.
Perhaps they forget on a daily basis the struggle it is for me to do what I need to do. On some days the
hardest task I have is the mental component of trying to deal with this all.
They do not know that while I drink my coffee in the morning and type an email I am prone to worry. I
wonder if pain in my side or my back or my neck is cause for concern. I am mentally comparing the location
of the pain to the bright flashes on the latest PET scan. I try to remember my body’s details on that scan. I
create a split screen in my mind. I contemplate if the spots align, if they don’t. I have memorized the words
in the radiology report. When I want to torture myself I recite them.


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