I woke up today reading a post from one of my friend's MBC advocacy sites, which stated that 113 women die of breast cancer daily & that 30% of early stage breast cancers will recur as metastasis (stage 4 - terminal cancer).
I miss my sister-friends who have passed from terminal breast cancer, most were under 40.
I miss my aunt who passed from terminal ovarian cancer. 70% of women with early stage ovarian cancer will recur and 14,080 women will die in 2017 from Ovarian Cancer.
I have lost so many amazing women gone because of a unrelenting evil disease, cancer, which on some days it makes me sad. I have less friends to call about cancer and less friends who "get it." It has become incredibly hard to get close to any new people with cancer, but I am sure each one of you would tell me that by closing myself off from other cancer sisters, I may miss the opportunity to have another friend that will enlighten my life & hopefully I will do the same to theirs.
I have learned so much from each any every one of them I hold dear to my heart.
~ I miss Aziza. I love you my Breastie - you know best friends with breast cancer, we all came together a group of 6 of us who text daily and will be friends forever. You taught me to let go and have fun. You were my fitness sister before and after our cancer spread. You taught me to not give up on what I love to do despite having Stage 4 cancer - so I traveled with you & with my family and friends, I kept working out within my limits, I kept working until I could not provide my clients the care I felt they deserved, and I got aquainted with cooking, small art projects, and the various new crafty hobbies you can drown yourself in at Michaels (for you it was candles, soap and jewelry making, for me it was art, crochet, and home decorating. You taught me to stand up for myself, to be eloquent when expressing my opinions, and for living life despite what the stats say. I wanted to call you everyday, I miss you and your infectious laugh. I am so glad our Breasties gave me a matching necklace that represents us and your angel wings watching over us.I could go on and on, but I will just end up a puddle of tears & I know you would not want me wasting a good day crying. I wish I could have seen you this past winter, but my health got in the way, I know you & Jon understood that, but I truly just wanted to laugh with you in person. Thank you for bringing your Breasties into your wedding and having us meet all your family & friends. You truly have so many genuine people who love you and still love you to this very second and beyond.
~ I miss Maryanne. I miss my chemo mother, my nighttime chatting buddy, my friend who hoped for research and cutting edge treatment, and to make medical changes anytime I do not feel comfortable and to never settle. She inspired us to choose where we went for my honeymoon, inspired me to change oncologists in 2015 when my first doctor & I were no longer a good fit, and she inspired me to advocate for our disease (well as much as I could through writing my blog, writing for LBBC, or taking interviews for various MBC websites.
~ I miss talking makeup and animals and our significant others with Kim. I miss her sending me pictures of her animals and her having fun at baseball games with Alex. I am glad she had me meet Alex online. He is an amazing guy & Kyle and I hope to make our trip to California to visit him & also see Aziza's husband Jon. Everyday, I look at the bracelet she made me with my all time favorite hockey team the Rangers. I think of how thoughtful and caring you were and how excited you were to send me that surprise. You loved sending little gifts. You loved your pink shoes and leggings that you would wear to chemo. You were never angry at the pink ribbon, you felt it was part of our sisterhood. Also I will never forget how gorgeous you look in 2017's Haus of Volta calendar, you radiated with your pink hair and that adorable teal dress. I wish I could have made the trip to do the shoot with you, but I think your beauty with your VW Bug is perfect in that picture (it represents so much about you that made you special). I wish we got to meet in person, but you were taken too young.
~ I miss Gi. I miss talking to her all night. I miss reminiscing with her about the 2000s and the crazy things we did and how if we met back then we would be friends in real life before cancer. I am so glad I found you in a random health group on Facebook and connected you with the MBC community. You called me your guardian angel and now you are mine. I keep the silver angel up in my bedroom to remind me of you and our faith. I use the notebook you gave me to take medical notes so I have you there with me on difficult days. I miss laughing with her & holding up hope with her. I miss her tough language, which always got her point across and would make me laugh & make me happy that she didn't judge me for my garbage mouth. I wish we got to meet in person, but you were taken too young.
~ I miss Adrienne. I miss the woman who taught me to throw a hail Mary with my treatment and to never give up on trials. I miss talking medications with her and she always was so ahead of the current awareness, she always was looking for the best and better ways to kill our cancer. I miss how beautiful she was inside and out. I always felt like you were just so smart and knew so much about the trials and you helped me become more of an advocate for trials for myself and not get scared to take the risk to go outside the box.
~ I miss Sheryl. I miss laughing with her. I wish I knew her longer. I miss talking our social work journeys together. She told me to be aware of how I feel physically always and to not ignore symptoms. She told me she would haunt me if I forgot that, she did. I truly believe Sheryl's angel was with me when I was fading in & out before they found the brain tumor in the ER. She also brought her wonder mother into my world, she is an amazing woman and is so encouraging & does so much for Sheryl's Grant at Rutgers for the MSW program and also for BRCA education. I am glad she gave me your bracelet that I can wear on days I need you the most Sheryl, to remind myself of you.
~I miss my Aunt, my godmother and one of my first friends on Earth. I have just begun to process the loss of my aunt and she has almost been gone for 2years. I did not want to talk in detail about it and if I began to cry when I started to talk about it or when people asked me about her, I would change the subject or shut down. I think it is time to start talking about her on my blog to help me with the grief process. I miss calling her after a horrible oncology day. I miss having a family member who got what it was like to live with terminal cancer. I miss knowing that she was there for my mother as a best friend & support to help my mom deal with my cancer. She encouraged us to go to big cancer centers for second opinions. She also helped me find humor in the doctors appointments and surgeries & showed me how to walk out of even the most crappiest situations with a smile. She was always busy doing something, which amazed me because she was ALWAYS on chemotherapy as there are no other options with terminal Ovarian Cancer. She would always encourage me to watch some new show and I would then get hooked on it. She inspired me to start planting my own flowers & this summer is the first time since her passing that I planted flowers, it was too hard for me to plant a hibiscus or any plant with you not around. I miss living with her. I just remember how kind she and my uncle were (are) and let me live with them after graduate school to shorten the commute to my first job as a licensed social worker. She had me riding my bike all summer around the beach, going on little adventures with her and my uncle so I would not do what I normally do, and getting me and Kyle to love Ocean City MD as much as you did. I have not been back to Ocean City MD or Wildwood since we lost you, but I told myself I will go back and do something you would have loved to do down there. I did not forget Greg, I promised you I would never forget my uncle. I am glad the last time I saw you, I was able to crawl into that hospital bed and hug you. I wish I could have taken the pain from you. I am glad you are no longer in pain. I am glad you taught me to be strong despite how sad, angry, and scared this disease can make me. You taught me to keep my head held up high despite what my cancer did, what treatment I was on, or how bad I may feel. Thank you for helping me and my mother learn to find at least 1 positive thing about bad cancer news, my mom continues to help me find that positive, which helped so much over this last year of not ideal medical news & new and scary medical procedures. I love you. You were totally there at my wedding like Uncle Greg said, but I know you are with him daily and do not leave his side. <3
I have lost so many other women I have connected with in the online cancer support groups I partake in and also have met at Cancer conferences. The ladies I wrote about today are the most significant friends I have lost from 8/2015 - 5/2017. These loses have not been easy, but I am grateful for my friends, my husband, and my family for being there to talk to when you all moved onto your next phase of existence. I am grateful that you all have connected me to new ideas, new people, and new experiences. I hate that cancer took you from us, but cancer will never take what you have helped give me in return.
I hope one day someone may say the same thing about me. I hope I am helping others and not being selfish. I just want to inspire someone to be strong to do their best and to hope, but I am not sure if I have made that impact on anyone yet.