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    The day after tomorrow I will get on board a train and go to Seattle for another advocacy training. While the pink ribbon campaign plods along (the month is getting old, after all) and the hoopla continues, women put one foot in front of the other and plod forward, in advocacy or in treatment.

    The blogosphere has been busy lately. Fallen sisters, survivors speaking out against pinkwashing, daily breast cancer facts, metastatic breast cancer awareness day. Today two amazing warrior women are telling it like it is.

    Susan Nibur is a scientist, a mom, an advocate, an activist, and a simply wonderful human being. While she struggles with metastatic cancer, she has taken the time and energy to write a post about the realities of her life with metastatic IBC. Her in-depth, honest, complete account is a labor of love. Please read her story if you want to get past the pretty pink and know what we’re really up against.

    Likewise my other friend “down under”, who today wrote a post about facing death. This woman continues her commitment to getting her university degree while coping with treatment side effects, and somehow having the presence to pursue her studies while keeping a “my funeral” file. Read her story and get a good look at real strength.

    These women, and other amazing women like them, occupy my cyberworld and lift me when I want to whine. Today I am refreshed from my backpacking trip and have immediately managed to overcommit myself. I have writing deadlines, packing, momming, and a bizillion other concerns before I leave for Seattle on Wednesday, and I could easily just spin out on adrenaline. I don’t want to do that. I want to be mindful, aware every day of how precious each one I have is. I am so, so lucky that I don’t have to live my life under the burden of toxic treatment to keep me alive. I am so fortunate to have the stamina to overcommit myself (sometimes) and get away with it.

    What I can do now is go learn some more, and put that knowledge to good use in every way I can. I also continue to write what I know for whoever needs it. I just published another article for getting through chemotherapy, this one specific to
    managing the effects of taxol
    . My IBC article has made it’s way past Associated Content into Yahoo News, and that makes me happy.

    Susan and J, your stories are where my commitment comes from.

    This last weekend, we had beautiful weather until it was time to leave. The sound of rainfall on our tents got us up and moving. We packed in a fine mist, and then as we prepared to leave we were gifted with the most beautiful rainbow. I have it on my desktop now to remind me to keep on keeping on, and believe that breast cancer can end by 2020.


    our parting gift

    The more I learn about the real facts about breast cancer, the more annoyed I am by pink ribbons! They had their time and their purpose. Women get more mammograms, and women survive five years from diagnosis more often (there’s a trick to that statistic, it’s not what you think!). Our drug treatments, while still awful, are easier to get through because there are better drugs for the side effects. There are even new drugs, one of which I credit with the fact that I’m still here. Progress has been made certainly.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people still think that “breast cancer is not a big deal. They catch it early, treat it, and you’re fine”. When I was diagnosed, my boyfriend at the time said, “You’re gonna be ok, right?”

    That was not at all the most likely outcome.

    The incidence of breast cancer has not decreased. It has INCREASED. That is correct, and what’s more, the death rate has NOT significantly decreased! Approximately 30% of diagnosed breast cancers at all stages will return later, sometimes years later, as metastases.

    We haven’t put an end to cancer because there has not been a commitment to do it. NBCC is committing to do it. We have a deadline. The deadline is January 1, 2020.

    Pink is pretty, pink is a nice color, pink is demure.

    ENOUGH! The annual tribute to pink every October may feel as if we’re doing something, maybe it makes us more comfortable, but I for one cannot be comfortable when I have friends I care about that are fighting metastatic disease. In fact statistically that’s in my future too, though I can hope not. Is hope all I have? Is hope all I can offer my daughter? Isn’t it time we stopped the grim reaper from stealing our sisters, mothers, daughters, brothers, fathers?

    When I started trying to make a difference in a real way, after I got stronger and found my way back into blogging, I sometimes would get discouraged. A lot I would get discouraged, and weep with frustration. I wasn’t sure I could keep it up, yet the struggle must go on until we conquer.

    After this conference I feel galvanized! I can give it my all, I can work my butt off, I can learn to use facebook, twitter, linked-in, whatever. Because if we all crank like this now we can take a break, or retire (OMG) on January 1, 2020.

    My children are in the future. My friends are now. My friends Susan, Helen, Rachel, Katy, Donna, and many others whose lives are worth fighting for RIGHT NOW.

    I had lunch with a group of amazing bloggers on Sunday. I started to write this post and found my friend Susan has already jumped on it (she is in D.C. after all!), and she has already written a post about the Deadline to End Breast Cancer. She also lists the rest of the tribe of fighting women who are determined to light up cyberspace and make this happen.

    I was planning to do this tomorrow but I couldn’t contain myself!

    I’m jetlagged and my eyes are full of sand, so I’ll put up my own list tomorrow. In the meantime, go check out Mothers with Cancer for a smorgasbord of great blogs to read and more about Deadline 2020.

    I’m in 100%. Are you with us?

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