Since the day I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer1, people began telling me that breast cancer treatment has come a long way and that they just ‘knew’ I would make it because I was a ‘fighter’. Well, fast forward a couple of weeks and we now know that not only is my cancer Stage 4 and metastatic,2 it is also very aggressive.
Once we knew the status of my cancer, I was regaled with stories of someone’s grandmother’s friend was cured of metastatic breast cancer by eating the freeze-dried vomit of a newborn baby from the old country mixed in with various spider and eel bits and SHE WAS CURED! I am a critical thinker and I believe in medical science and I don’t believe that anyone is going to be cured of metastatic cancer with anything. The very nature of metastatic cancer is that it’s through the body and it’s going to get you, eventually. Once we shut those people down then it was the have you seen this naturopath, osteopath or homeopathist? I am not going to spend time on this post with my thoughts about the three above-named ‘professions’ as this blog is about false hope not deception.
Once you’ve run the gamut above the ‘fighters’ come in. These are well-meaning people who know women who have made it many years living with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC). They have done all the chemos, radiation, surgery etc. They know so much about this stuff that they could be oncologists. So on these brave women3 trudge to chemo rooms where they are hooked up to toxic poisons that cause all sorts of side effects that make them sicker than if they just let the cancer take them. They suffer side effects that make their bones weak and break. They live with low blood counts that make them tired4 with foggy thinking.
Women new to the new metastatic scene. I entered at stage 4 so I haven’t had the years trying to beat a curable cancer. My first indication that anything was wrong was a met. I knew one other woman who had been fighting metastatic disease for 6 years. I am not going to delineate the way cancer destroyed her body as it could identify someone. But trust me, it was not pretty. A couple of weeks ago I was reading a post from a woman whose doctor had told her she death was closing in. Instead of supporting this woman to have a good death, that she has fucking earned, they were encouraging her to keep on ‘fighting’ and asking her if she had tried X and Y therapy. I was enraged! Why are we are we as a society so focused on what medical science can do that we accept any and all treatments offered? Simply put, we don’t have to. We have a right to a dignified death and in my opinion that happens long before someone has gone through 30 rounds of chemo.5
The one thing that no one wants to talk about is the cost. If every woman with advanced breast cancer did every treatment on offer like smorgasbord, the health care system would very quickly go bankrupt. Oncologists need to take their eyes off whatever metric they are measured by and look at the well being of their patients. I know that The Oncologist™ did not do that. He was actually shocked that I wasn’t going to take his poison and once I no longer wanted chemo he wanted nothing more to do with me.6
I have chosen MAiD.7 Of all the people I dealt with the MAiD team have been amazing.8 I have chosen MAiD to end my life. I am not advocating others choose this path. There are myriad reasons why MAiD is not an option for someone.9 People who choose MAiD seem to be a pretty committed bunch. I asked my 2nd assessor10 how many people have backed out at the last moment. She said of the 15 she’s done, none have backed out. I think this speaks volumes of the need for MAiD even though it is still quite controversial in the medical and wider communities.
If you are or know someone with advanced breast cancer please think twice before regaling them with stories of weird cures and dubious ‘professionals’. All these things are going to do is relieve them of some cash from their wallets while doing nothing for their cancers.
I am so ready for my MAiD death. I no longer cry when I think of my family going on without me. There is nothing I can do about it. I am hopeful they will be ok and if not, they will figure it out. I am not the only one with good ideas. I have many friends who will help look out for Deb and Angelina. I have loved and been loved – what more could a woman ask for?
NB – we need some men to develop metastatic breast cancer on the regular and it will be cured without a question.
1 A 2mm, triple-negative tumour in my right breast.
2 30 tumours in my lungs.
3 And, while, yes men can get breast cancer it’s still primarily a women’s disease. Men would not be asked to suffer like this. Things are so good for prostate cancer that most men die with it not of it. Men would not be asked to endure painful chemo treatment in succession. Big pharma would have been all over it. I am not playing the feminist card here and pointing out how women are let down by our medical system. It’s simply the truth. Personally, I am still waiting for women’s Viagra. I don’t think I will make it.
4 Personally, I haven’t had a red blood cell count higher than 100 in 5 years. That’s mostly from ulcerative colitis not cancer but chemo knocked more of them out.
5 My experience is that a round of chemo is 12 treatments over 3 months.
6 I lie. He was concerned about the maintenance of my port and to make sure I got it flushed monthly.
7 Medically Assisted Death
8 MAiD is a choice we have. It is one of many choices of treatment that terminally ill people have in Canada.
9 Religion, personal belief, insurance policies…
10 The doctor who will administer the medications to end life.