As I’ve said before, I belong to an online support group for women who have battled, or are battling, triple negative breast cancer. We come from all walks of life, all economic backgrounds, and different countries. Yet we are bonded by a common journey…the battle of breast cancer…the battle for LIFE.
TNBC is an uncommon, very aggressive form of ductal adenocarcinoma (read cancer) which quite often hits women much younger than 40…the beginning age of annual mammography detection. So for many, the first knowledge of the cancer comes when we can feel it, which usually means it is already pretty advanced. So we fight.
We keep fighting. We fight the battle to regain our lives from this horrible disease. We fight to live again. We fight to keep it from returning, if we have been lucky enough to win the battle to “kill” it the first, second, or third time. Our odds aren’t great, even in the best of situations–our chances of it returning are high–but we keep fighting anyway.
There have been a lot of our beautiful sisters who have finished their battle this winter. They are at peace, their bodies no longer stressed beyond endurance by the disease or by the toxic chemicals the doctors flush through our systems to kill it. We miss these dear friends, but we remember their valiant fight, we remember their love of life, we think of the families they have left behind…and we keep fighting.
After one beautiful young woman passed away several weeks ago, we had a discussion about this battle we’re fighting. Several of my sisters were outraged by this disease that has no respect for youth, motherhood, beauty, or even life itself. It is an equal opportunity destroyer. Several of my sisters were seriously disheartened, wondering why we continue to fight when we just keep losing.
This week, one beautiful pink sister found out that her cancer has returned. Spreading through her body, trying to once again lay claim. When she told us of its return, she was outwardly calm. I can only imagine the inner turmoil she was going through, having to once again think about toxic treatments, surgery, fatigue and all the other hassles involved in cancer treatment. She still had to tell her children…again.
I remember when I had to tell my sons that I had cancer…it was an experience I NEVER want to repeat! But, outwardly this incredible woman was calm and at peace. We, her sisters in this battle, are not. Once again, we are angry, confused, scared, depressed, sad, and overwhelmed. And I remember the group’s earlier conversation and a myriad of thoughts are once again stirred up inside me.
Fighting isn’t easy. It comes with its own set of anxieties, frustrations and hardships. And each one of us, if we ever face the return (or the never-to-be-defeated first round) will one day have to determine for ourselves when we’ve had enough. Not necessarily a surrender, just no more active fighting. A temporary (or permanent) reprieve front the onslaught of toxic warfare. For some, they will fight to the bitter end. For others, they may choose a tiny bit of “peace” and a “prayer for the best.” No decision is wrong in this war…every soldier needs to “take leave” occasionally. Some of us wait and take it at the end, some of us get it in the middle…all soldiers need a break from the battle.
But for those of us still fighting–either actively fighting the disease that rages inside us, or those who are blessed with a “now-healthy” body and are merely fighting to maintain that health–we continue the fight. Not just for ourselves, but for all of our pink sisters. We must not quit, even if we do occasionally take leave. Every day we continue to live is a victory. Every day we fight for those who can’t is another day of success. Every breath we take means another moment that cancer has lost its hold on our lives. Each and every day is a win.
We have to hang in there…keep fighting the fight, spreading the word, and holding each other up. We continue to fight so that our doctors, and the researchers in the sidelines, will learn from each loss, and build upon each win. Our fight, good Lord willing, will some day allow others to NOT have to face this horrible disease! For those who have finished the fight, as well as for those who have yet to begin, we HAVE to keep going! And that’s why we are all here hanging together…keeping each other strong! ♥