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.