Pinktober Guest Post: Kate

Pink-to-ber A portmanteau coinage used by many people who live with breast cancer to refer to October, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is heavily dominated by marketing in the color pink and cute tags like “Save the tatas”. (See Komen, etc.)

During the month of October 2013, I am running guest posts from people with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) or who are closely involved with someone who has MBC. This was the idea of the wonderful Jody Schoger, and I think some other breast cancer bloggers are participating, too.

Today we will hear from Kate, who blogs at Kate Has Cancer. In her mid-forties and the mother of a young child, Kate writes “One thing I think I need to do is improve breast cancer awareness by sharing my experience.” It’s an honor and a delight to host Kate as she shares it here. Please welcome her warmly!

Two Years Under the Mets

Two years ago this month, I really wasn’t worried about the lump my gynaecologist had just found on my breast. You see, it felt just like one I’d had five years before on the other breast — a fullness that went away after it had been determined to be benign. 

This time, I was wrong. But for a couple of weeks, I didn’t know the lump was actually invasive ductal breast cancer. I didn’t know that my weird blood test results were a reflection of the tumours that riddled my liver. And I didn’t know that my aching back wasn’t “out” but broken in several places.

After all, like many people, all I knew was that October = breast cancer = pink. I didn’t know that for most women who get breast cancer, it doesn’t run in their families. I sure didn’t know that men get breast cancer. I didn’t know that in about 10% of the new diagnoses, breast cancer has already spread to distant organs before it’s found. All I had was this vague notion that breast cancer was an easy cancer. 

Foolishly, I didn’t know that metastasized breast cancer cannot be cured. And advanced breast cancer was what I had. Easy cancer? It sure wasn’t easy telling my little girl I have cancer.  No, these last two years haven’t been easy at all.

October of 2011 was eye-opening for me, in many ways. Yet, for a long time, I had trouble believing it was true. Day after day, I would have to remind myself that they had done a biopsy…on my own breast…and it was cancer. But I was supposed to live to be one hundred, like my grandmother almost did. Yet, there I was, dying before my husband’s eyes. Until treatment started, that is. Though it looked very dark for some time, chemo and Herceptin shrunk my tumours.  Then I switched to Tamoxifen, which has held things stable.

My hair is regrown, and I’m walking better, but I know I’m not cured. Two years after my eye-opening Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is still no cure for breast cancer. And a cure is what I need. Some educated awareness would be nice too.

My little girl tells me that nothing is impossible. She’s a smart girl; maybe she’s right.

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16 thoughts on “Pinktober Guest Post: Kate

  1. Kate – I too had thoughts much like yours about bc being “easy” to take care of. I was so naïve. We definitely need more emphasis on education. So glad that the tamoxifen is working well for you. May you have many, many more years to share with your beautiful daughter, family and friends.

  2. Kate I am so glad your treatment is working. I wish that you have lots of years with treatments that bring quality of life. I hope that there was a cure for this horrible disease. I send you blessings, prayers, love and light.

  3. I am honoured to be included as a guest poster here. Yesterday was the anniversary of getting my biopsy results, when this nightmare became real. Living two years with breast cancer isn’t easy, but it is far better than my only alternative.

    Bless you all for your kind words and thank you, “Telling Knots.” ~Kate

  4. Kate, thank you so much for sharing your story; you wrote it with such candor and I am sure many others will feel much of what you have described resonates with them, too. it’s good to know we are not alone. I wish you all the good things you are hoping for – much more time to spend with your little girl, and success with treatment.

    love and light,

    karen

  5. Thank you for sharing your story Kate. I so agree that we need to get the word out that breast cancer is not all about pink ribbons. I’ll be praying that you continue to do well .

  6. Kate, this poignant post moved me to tears. How awful to have to tell your little girl that you have cancer. I wish you many years of a wonderful life. You deserve it.

  7. Yes that is the point. Breast cancer is not cute, or sassy, or sharp witted. It definitely isn’t humorous. But when I use sass and wit and humor, I get peoples attention. Then I can talk to them about breast cancer. I can tell them that because they are young or a man and even if no one in the history of their family ever had breast cancer, they are not off the hook. I can beg my friends to get regular mammograms and encourage men to know what their chests look and feel like. I can encourage them to report any and every change to their doctors. And I can ask them to give money because just because I don’t “have” breast cancer, I am not cured. Even my dear friend who just completed treatment for a .2 cm breast cancer is not cured. We all need a cure and we need a prevention so that our daughters don’t have to walk the same path we have. So please don’t hate when I put on the pink tee shirt and drive my car with the pink ribbon magnent to the field to join other women and hold a shoe up in the air and sing “I Will Survive” as if it is a promise and not just a prayer. I see this as the best chance for a cure.

    • I agree with you, Lisa. There is room for wit, and even the occasional crass comment. I proudly wear the “f*ck cancer” hat my friend knit me… And I wore it at the Run for the Cure last year. This year I sported pink. Pink can pull us together towards a cure. It is all about the message pink gets across. I support what you’re doing.

  8. Kate, I too had been deceived into thinking that when (yes, too many generations – definitely was thinking when) I got breast cancer that I would get a lumpectomy and maybe a little more treatment and be on my merry way. OK, it worked that way for my cousin. I knew my grandmother died of metastasized breast cancer, but surely we had made so much progress that that was rare. (Before Elizabeth Edwards I thought it was never.) So, here I am stage 3 “promoted” to stage 4 at my first 3 month after treatment check-up. Made it to remission only 2 months ago and now am scheduled for another bone scan because of my last blood test. I want more time, with my grown children, with my grandson, to see and hold future grandchildren. If I am still in remission, this will be a reminder how fragile that can be. If not?????
    You need more time with your daughter. You need to see her graduate, marry, have children of her own. Our daughters, everyone’s daughters, need to be spared what we are going through. You are right, we need a cure. A real cure that allows us to live our lives, not just treatments that put us in remission for a while. In the meantime, I hope your treatments work for a long time and give you time to watch your daughter grow. May God bless you.

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. It truly is our daughters I worry about. My sister-in-law has a rare cancer, also advanced. I worry about the inheritance we are leaving our daughters. I feel like I’ve let my girl down by not passing on health. ~ Kate

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