Yesterday was Metastatic Cancer Awareness Day, the one day of Pink October dedicated to the only women who will die of breast cancer.
As you read this, I will, once again, be in a PET scan machine. Over the past year since diagnosed with mets, four with cancer, I have had approximately eight PET scans, about 35 CT scans,19 MUGA scans and a sprinkling of bone and other types of imaging tests, and 14 surgeries over the last 4 years.
Imagine the time that takes – the driving, the parking, the waiting rooms, changing, prep, lying in machine after machine. Hundreds of hours I’ve spent – no, thousands – not only waiting for tests, but waiting for doctors and waiting for treatment. I have likely had 500 doctor appointments over the past years – often going several times a week. My life is thoroughly medicalized and has been since my initial diagnosis.
Lying in these machines, waiting for them to probe through my skin and reveal the secrets lying beneath – to learn whether cancer is growing or retreating, whether I have time to live or it is time to prepare for death – I think. I think about what it means to have this disease take away your life piece by piece, health, job, functioning. But also what it means to be one of the lucky ones who enters remission and gets a reprieve from cancer and gets some of that back. And I think about how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and what makes us cling to life so desperately – and we all do, we all want it so much.
What I have mostly thought about is my family. I think about my loved ones. I submit my body to needles and chemicals and radiation and scalpels, for them, to see as much of their lives as I’m privileged to see.
As I sit in a darkened room with radioactive sugars dripping into my system, preparing for the test that will tell my fortune for the next few months, I will be thinking of my family. And maybe how hungry I am for Ice Cream. xoxoxo.
Don’t forget, Metastatic Cancer Day is about real women. All we want as we are scanned and treated is to live long enough for the next milestone: to see a birthday, a graduation, wedding, or a grandchild. Our lives are like fireflies in an endless sky, blinking out quickly. But we have value while we are here. Without us, the person who may change the world may not come about.
We are worth money, and research dollars.
This was written by a woman named Ann. In this blog I changed some of her words to encompass my story but every day I feel the same thing. The testing, the doctors wanting and willing to do whatever it takes to live and change women’s and men’s lives for Metastatic Cancer affect us all in some way or form in our lives.