Soon after my diagnosis with secondary breast cancer aged 33 someone tried to explain to me that my diagnosis could be viewed as a good thing. I don’t know why they thought that as I promptly blocked them. Seriously being told you’ll never reach 40 is not a good thing. It’s shit. Pardon my language but it’s a head fuck and a shitty bloody nightmare that you can’t wake up from. But that’s not what people want to hear. They want to hear the positive. If you dare to try and speak about the negatives of dying in your 30s, far too many people comment about how morbid and depressing you are. So this blog is me giving positivity the middle finger. This blog will be about how secondary breast cancer makes me feel and my list of four deadly emotions I get thanks to cancer. It won’t be positive and it won’t be polite. If you can accept that then read on.
1) Firstly my disease makes me feel petrified all of the frigging time. I was watching the wonderful Doctor Who on Sunday and all I could think was whether I’d be alive to see the next series. Every time I get to do something amazing I end up wondering if it will be my last time doing that thing. It was Pancake Day yesterday and I cried as I ate my last pancake. Trust me tears don’t improve the taste.
2) Secondly secondary breast cancer is a constant feeling of loss. It takes everything from those it slams into. It’s a thief and a genocidal killer. It takes dreams, hopes and futures and shreds them in front of you. I recently found out that a friend is pregnant. My first thought was jealousy. I was diagnosed at 33. While my friends plan babies I research funeral plans. I don’t know if I would have had children, but my cancer stole that choice from me. Thanks a bunch cancer. As my friend announced her pregnancy I also looked in grief at my husband. After all I’m not the only one who has had a future family ripped away – my losses are his as well.
3) Having secondary breast cancer means living with permanent heartbreak – both literally and emotionally. Cancer treatments damage our hearts, contributing to our deaths from this evil disease, which is a mass killer of women. Remember 31 British women a day die of breast cancer and that has to change. It has to change because I can’t handle much more emotional heartbreak from finding out that people I know and care for have died. If the corona virus killed them they would be front page news. Because they died of the pink and positive breast cancer, their deaths are hidden. But make no mistake, secondary breast cancer is slaughtering women. Every time I see another incredible person has been killed by secondary breast cancer my heart shatters. It shatters for them and their families. It also shatters knowing that one day that social media post will be about my death. I want to attend support groups etc but don’t know if I can handle it. Losing social media friends is hard enough. Losing people I’ve met is so much worse. As I said this isn’t a pink and positive blog post. Breast cancer is a killer.
4) Finally having secondary breast cancer aged 35 fills me with rage and fury. What is it going to take for people and policy makers to care about us? Where the **** is the urgency? We are dying today, tomorrow and the next day. We can’t wait for years for slow and steady campaigns. We are being failed by a broken system and slaughtered by neglect. Hear us please. What do we have to do to be heard? Every time I see a woman mourning the loss of her future anď fearing for her children I flip my lid. Why do we have to justify our right to live? Aren’t we worth it? We are important but we are a dirty hidden secret in the world of pinkwashed breast cancer.
But guess what and this is where I get a bit more positive – there are incredible women in METUP in the UK and US who are fighting to save lives. Nobody deserves cancer. Nobody deserves to die the way I’m going to. Nobody deserves to be 35 and keeping their fingers crossed to reach 36. And that’s why METUP groups are fighting for change. Because we deserve it. We will be heard – somehow. The alternative is more fear, loss, heartbreak and fury across the globe as the deaths won’t slow down or stop without change.
Those of us with secondary breast cancer aren’t dead yet. We are #BusyLivingWithMets and fighting for all women and men who are trying to outlive this killer. What we need is research and access to new and innovative treatments. What we need is hope and people to care. I really hope that people do care, because right now it feels like we are dying and nobody is noticing apart from our immediate friends and family members. That sucks. To put it mildly!
Thank you for reading. I wish to emphasise that I am often cheerful and positive. I look after my mental health almost as much as I do my physical health, if not more. But sometimes I just need to say what I feel. That’s what I’ve done here. Thank you.