Mets R Us

Does having metastatic breast cancer define who we are?  Difficult question because in many ways it is a category which we belong to, but I am not sure that is fully defines who we are.  While it may dictate a lot of our life, and it may cause our death, it is not the sum total of who we are.  There are many labels that we can place upon ourselves, of have placed on us by others, and I don’t believe that there is ever one label that takes presidence, except maybe Human Being.

Have you ever been surprised by how others thing of you?  I was rather taken aback the first time someone said how positive I am because I have always thought of myself as being rather negative, something that comes from having depression a lot of the time.  I still wouldn’t really say that I was a positive person; stubborn maybe.  There are some things you just have to get on with in life and mets are one of those things.  If you wake up in the morning this means that you are still alive and you just have to get on with the day.  Sometimes that is easy, when you have something to look forward to, but some days it is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and see where they take you.  I have often thought that it is the small and ordinary things that make a life worth living.  Ok, so once in a while a person can win their own gold medal, but those days are few and far between.  The art of living is the art of the ordinary, and of finding some meaning to it all.

I would have to say that I have struggled with that in the past, but it is breast cancer that has been essentially one of the most positive things to happen to me.  I wouldn’t be sitting here in a Travelodge in Ely, Cambridgeshire without my diagnosis.  I would not have dreamt of spending money on myself before, or actually doing some of the things I have always wanted to do, but now it is ‘what the heck’, because now it is now or never.  I can no longer put off until tomorrow what I need to do today.  I have thrown out / recycled so many things that I no longer need.  What is the point of holding on to something because it might be of use some day in the future.  The down side of that is, inevitably, that as soon as you get rid of it you actually do find a use for it, but tough that is life.

What we need is to put our life into some sort of order.  By that I don’t mean that we need to have a Last Will and Testament, a burial plot and so on all planned to the last detail.  Quite the opposite.  What we need is to get in tune with the things that are important in life, and concentrate on them.

There is not a single one of us with metastatic breast cancer who would want for there to be any more to add to our number.  However we do make up about 30% of the breast cancer community and that needs to be acknowledged and accepted on many levels. 

  • First of all it means that there are a lot of us out there.  Maybe we won’t survive in the long-term, but we are alive whether others in the community want to accept that or not.  We are here, and we ain’t going away. 
  • Secondly, it means that we have different needs to the ‘survivor’ community which should be just another aspect of having breast cancer and not something to be hidden as some sort of mark of shame.
  • Thirdly, it means that we need someone to take our medical needs a bit more seriously, and most of all a bit more positively.  How many of us were given the impression that there is NO hope and that things can only get worse. 
  • Why are we not told about other treatment options?  Yes, I know these are controversial but there are ways that we can help ourselves.  Using some of these other treatment options can really give us a sense of control and empowerment.
  • We need information about the treatments you are offering us.  Don’t treat me like an imbecile, I have a brain and I want to know what is going on so I can make an informed decision.
  • After all, I am not dead yet.

I guess I just want to feel that I still have something to offer my family, community, society; heck, the world.  Mets R Us, but they do not define who we are.

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2 Comments

  1. Joanna Farrer

    Beautifully written Teddybearwannabe…real and straight from the heart.

  2. Judith Curtis Brown

    Powerful comments that express many of my own feelings. Let me share a few experiences:
    At a friend’s party, when she introduced me to the other attendees, what I told the ladies did not include that I have cancer. My friend gave me a puzzled look, but as you said MBC does not define who I am.
    At an American Cancer Society event, someone herded all of us ‘cancer survivors’ into a line. Next thing I knew the microphone was being passed off to each of us with all the ladies saying ” I have been cancer free for ___ months/years.” I dropped out of the line only to find some of the ‘herders’ pushing me back. What was I supposed to say? I am not, nor will I ever be, cancer free. I was by then at the very end of the line. What a let down for me to speak last! I told it like it is, I am NOT cancer free, but I have survived 3 years.
    An old high school chum with whom I visited said, “You’re so upbeat. You are not the sstereotypical cancer patient.” I asked just who a stereotypical CP was. He said something along the lines of “thin and morose.” I set him straight. Most cancer patients I’ve met have been very upbeat because we are just so glad to be alive to enjoy another day. I suppose toward our very ends we might fit into his image of a cancer patient, but please realize, we cancer patients are just as alive as everybody else! And, guess what? Anyone might get run over by a bus at any time. If you are alive, you are subject to death at any moment. Watch yourself!

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