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A Sobering Look at Metastatic Breast Cancer from Wildfire Magazine

A Sobering Look at Metastatic Breast Cancer from Wildfire Magazine

Last week I introduced you to Wildfire Magazine. This week I am directing you to a blog post I read there a while back.

I am forever thankful that the lump in my breast was right at my bra line, because I don’t think I would have otherwise found it so early. Though mastectomies and breast reconstruction suck, I’m also thankful that they were my course of treatment, and my cancer is gone. My chances of a second diagnosis are low, and I don’t live in fear of its return, but for some women it does return. That’s just reality.

There are many many women out there living with Stage 4 breast cancer. They will be in treatment for the rest of their lives. I found the following blog post at Wildfire educational and sobering, and I hope you will too.

10 Things Your Friend With Metastatic Breast Cancer Needs You to Understand Now

If you’re like me, you like concrete how-tos, clear directions, tried and true recipes, do this not that, that sort of thing. There is nothing so frustrating as wanting a map of a new place and not having one. That’s how I have felt the last several years when it comes to breast cancer awareness and Metastatic Breast Cancer. I want to know specifically how to be a good friend to those with MBC.

Lacking the map, I’ve decided to simply ask. So, recently I’ve spent a lot of time talking to women with MBC, asking how I — an early stager — can support & advocate for women in the breast cancer community whom have been diagnosed Stage IV. The women I talked to were very happy to help me and now I have for you (and me) this list.

1. Being metastatic is just awful luck, not something a person did or didn’t do. Many are diagnosed de novo metastatic, before they even knew that was a thing.

Continue reading – 10 Things Your Friend With Metastatic Breast Cancer Needs You to Understand Now

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Trusting God in the “I Don’t Want To’s”

Trusting God in the “I Don’t Want To’s”

When I discovered a lump in my breast on January 9, 2016 (there are some dates you don’t forget), I opened a new Word document on my computer and started typing. The title of the doc? When You Think You Might Have Cancer. By the time I stopped adding to that document months later, it was 55 typed pages long. Add to that all the journaling I did with my handy ink pen and I have close to 80 pages of my cancer experience on paper. Yowzers.

This week will mark the 2nd anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy, and I’ve been reading and remembering and at times riding the wave of emotion. The following is an excerpt from my journal days before surgery. Reading it was a reminder to me that God often makes us walk through “I don’t want to” moments. The big “I don’t want to” was obviously the cancer, but along with that big thing were a million little things I didn’t want to do.

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How to Encourage Family Members or Friends who have Cancer

by KimHarms 4 Comments
How to Encourage Family Members or Friends who have Cancer

 

I met author Shirley Corder (virtually, not physically) after my Aunt Connie gave me her book Strength Renewed to read during my breast cancer year. A breast cancer survivor, she graciously provided this post insightful post for us today. 

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When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer with glandular involvement, I found my family members and friends reacted in one of several ways.

1) There were those who rose up and said, “We’re here for you.”

This included my family members who lived at home, and I hate to think what my year of cancer treatment would have been like without their support. But it also included many of my friends.

The evening following my surgery, I had so many visitors it was embarrassing, so I did what all post-operative patients are allowed to do and went to sleep on them! Once I returned home however, the visitors spread out, and it soon became evident those who were going to truly support us through the time. And there were a good number of them, for whom I praise God.

2) Others, including family members, didn’t cope well.

In at least one case this was because the lady had lost two family members to cancer, and couldn’t handle a third. She didn’t live in our town, but kept meaning to answer my email. However the days went by and, believe it or not, she forgot I had cancer! A couple of years later, during a phone call, she realized what had happened, and was mortified. How could she have forgotten me during that time?

On my side, I was confused that she didn’t reply to my email. She wrote to me, but it was as if she’d never heard I was ill. Only after we opened up the subject, years later, did I understand what had happened.

3)  A close family member had just moved to a foreign country across the globe.

She had tiny children and was already stressed to her limits trying to adjust. She didn’t forget—she wrote and emailed me whenever she had the chance. But her comments showed me that although she hadn’t forgotten my diagnosis and treatment, she didn’t have a clear understanding of where I was at. That hurt me, and I took it to mean a lack of interest. It couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Months later, a psychologist gave me this explanation: She had so much going on in her life, she couldn’t also cope with someone she loved dearly who had cancer and whom she couldn’t visit. Her subconscious mind created a “mental cupboard” in order to protect her emotionally, and whenever she received news from me, she skimmed through it, then stored it in the “cupboard”. When she sat down to write to me, she couldn’t bear to re-read my emails so answered it from her “filtered” memory. When I heard this explanation, it helped me so much and alleviated the hurt I had felt.

4) Others didn’t know how to speak to me or act around me, and so they kept away.

They were dealing with their own shock, and they didn’t know how we were coping. I wish they’d sat down and spoken to me. Perhaps they thought I wouldn’t notice their absence, but I did.

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Breast Reconstruction – Thoughts From Women Who Have Been There (a profile series)

Breast Reconstruction – Thoughts From Women Who Have Been There (a profile series)

On Tuesdays, starting next week, I will begin featuring profiles of women who have undergone a single or bilateral mastectomy. Most of the women to be featured have been through reconstruction of some sort, and a few have opted to go flat as it’s called in the breast cancer world. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s a decision all of us in the “mastectomy club” have to make.

Breast Reconstruction Photo by Kim HarmsThese profiles are not meant to be exhaustive interviews. Instead they will highlight some key parts of the process, providing insight and encouragement to women who have unwittingly found themselves in the bizarre world of mastectomies and reconstruction. It’s a heart-breaking, weird, scary, challenging, and for me at least, faith-deepening experience. If you are a new member of our club, I hope the words these women say help you feel less alone.

My desire is that these profiles will also be educational for those of you who have not been on the receiving end of the statement “You have breast cancer.” I pray you never hear those words spoken to you, but I can almost guarantee that at some point in your life someone you love will.

If you or someone you know of would like to be a part of this series or would like more info, please contact me through the form below. (If you don’t hear from me within 2 days, email me at kimharms@rocketmail.com.)

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