Cancer Is… Remembrance
As a woman who’s lived through two breast cancer diagnosis, my nerve endings are in a perpetual state of hypervigilance. There are dates, smells, and images that remind me of various stages of the cancer journey. The month of June brings about difficult emotions because it is the month of my initial diagnosis. October reminds me of resilience. I remember barely making it across the finish line of my first breast cancer walk while in the middle of chemo. Weary but determined to make it without being carried.
October is the month of pink paraphernalia – the annual marketing of hope; a sentiment that seems to fade as soon as the month ends. More importantly, it is the month in which we acknowledge and illuminate Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness.
As I became an advocate for myself and a sister-friend to others on their walk, I learned more about MBC. I’ve learned how relentless it is, how callous, how there isn’t enough research, how there aren’t enough allies and most shockingly, how there isn’t data that shows how many active cases of MBC there are in the world or how many new cases there are each year.
Cancer is remembrance. It’s remembering my own journey and the journey of the millions of others who have courageously and gracefully walked before me.
I’ve lost two friends to MBC. The first is Erika – a sweet-spirited soul I met in law school. Erika was diagnosed January 2018 and gained her wings March 2019. Then there is Dinisa, an intelligent, generous woman who excelled professionally and was a passionate and committed mentor to young legal professionals of color. Dinisa gained her wings in June of 2020.
This month I honor them, remember them, and speak their names. I remember how full and vibrant their lives were, how much they offered this world and how humbled I am to have been in their presence. Because of them I remember never to take life for granted. I remember how magical it is to have breath in my lungs, to still be here – alive, and well.
It’s hard meeting friends through this community because everyone doesn’t make it. Everyone doesn’t get to celebrate clean scans, a promising prognosis or a second chance. So, I remember what I can, who I can, as much as I can – even when it hurts, even when it’d be easier to forget.
This October – I pause. I reflect. I acknowledge the sadness that lives in my bone marrow and infuses itself to moments I can’t anticipate. I hold on to hope that medical breakthroughs are imminent, that the heaviness of loss won’t crush the buds ready to bloom; remembering that even on the hardest of days, there is light to be found.
I know that Erika and Dinisa would encourage me to keep sharing their stories, to keep spreading awareness, to keep living and thriving.
This October, I remember all the smiles, all the hugs, all the ways in which my friends left their imprint on my life and so many others.
I’m enveloped by the wings of some bad-ass angels. This, I will always remember.
Kai McGee is a writer who frequently explores parenting, her journey through breast cancer, social-justice and self-care. She is currently working on her memoir. Connect with her via Instagram @onanaturalkai
Cancer Is… is a monthly Blog where Kai McGee explores thoughts on what cancer is and is not from her lens of walking the journey as a survivor, thriver and champion for Breast Cancer awareness.