I decided to start this blog and its subsequent foundation for my mom and for myself. She often talked about ways she wanted to help other women in her situation. She liked knowledge and the sharing of information. She talked about things she learned and would give full recaps to share the info. I went through some of Mom’s notebooks and found a wish list. She wanted to start a breast cancer foundation. Well, I decided to do it for her- but I knew I needed to do something different. My husband and I discussed the idea, and initially I couldn’t decided what it would be about- how it would be different.
As I started to look back at her treatment, things started to pop out. One time she talked about her mastectomy, telling me how if people knew everything they wouldn’t potentially get them- particularly how she thought it would significantly reduce her odds of a recurrence, yet her 2012 self wasn’t so sure. Looking back I missed the opportunity to ask her more about why she felt that way. Of course now I won’t know, but maybe putting that out there will make someone think harder about it. Mommy had triple negative breast cancer, which is more complicate and aggressive as they don’t understand it as well, so treatment options aren’t as tailored as some other subclasses of breast cancer. Yet, recent studies have identified genes that may be targets for triple negative therapies. This would significantly impact treatment options and chances of recurrence. We are learning everyday!
I then thought of one of the times we were in the emergency room. A resident came in and casually mentioned the cancer on her lung not being a problem of concern, only the brain metastasis. Well, Mommy didn’t know the cancer was in her lung – so clearly she was heartbroken. I wanted to slap the doctor in the face with the clipboard, but instead I gave Mommy some comforting words that I don’t remember now. We hugged, but I could see the fight seeping out. She was here because recent labs didn’t look good and she hadn’t been eating well, now this! I immediately looked at her records when I got home to find out that in fact her records indicated lung mets, but they were stable so it was not referenced in her regular oncologist appointments. I later found out from speaking with her doctor that stable cancer was usually not spoken of with someone with Stage 4 metastatic cancer. They were only worried about the areas not in control or unstable.
These were just a couple of the things we didn’t know. I know many people are probably in the same position, so in that I found my muse. I would focus on education. I would continue the fight against breast cancer. The fight to find a cure. And how best to arm ourselves, but with knowledge. Knowledge is power, and knowing about your particular cancer, your treatment options, why some options will work and others won’t, is all part of preparing.
Finally, I started it for myself. My healing process. As I mentioned before, I found out I was a co-survivor only 3 months before she passed. I never thought about what help I might need. I had my husband’s shoulder to cry on, which I did many times. But come morning, I was back to business. Co-survivors go through struggles as well, not just from a caretaker standpoint, but from feeling helpless. You try to be optimistic, but you don’t know what will happen. There is a painful edge, your walking across a rickety bridge suspended over a canyon. You pray you will make it across, but you just don’t know.
In all, I owed it to her to keep her alive. I wouldn’t replace those last six months with her for anything in the world, except more time with her. But this keeps her in my mind and on my lips, not just a memory.
So with that- share the love, a hug, and most importantly a laugh in Mable’s honor. And stay with me on this journey.