To My Friends With MBC
In my mind I have been writing this piece for a while. Since meeting some of the most amazing women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), I started to notice more and more the feeling of not getting the whole story from these women. The sense that they were holding back to make me and others surrounding them feel more comfortable with their diagnosis.
Late one night I could no longer handle it. I don’t want to be the reason why people go inward. I want to be a safe place, a place where we can talk about it all. This is what being an ally means to me. It means sitting in the fire with those with Stage IV breast cancer knowing that I cannot stop them from feeling the flames but I can be there. No one should feel alone. So here’s my letter to all the women with MBC.
Dear friends with MBC,
As a person who was diagnosed with early breast cancer, I just want to say I see you. I see you when you are lost in your thoughts at events for survivors, uncomfortable with a term that does not sit easy in your broken heart. I see you stumble with words when you try to gently tell someone that you will be in treatment for the rest of your life explaining the life of someone with MBC. I see you when you try to reach for the right words to share your story without trying to scare someone newly diagnosed. I even see you when you are sitting in a crowd of those affected by breast cancer but might feel alone as your journey is different from those of us early stagers.
I won’t pretend to understand your struggles, your thoughts and your endless wishes in the night. I hope to hold space for your dreams, your worries and your grief, to continue to learn about this disease with you and be authentic and present with you in your ups and downs from no evidence of disease (NED) to progression. I hope to be present in your joy and your pain as well as respect your boundaries. Above all, we are sisters in this scary world of cancer and I refuse to pretend that MBC doesn’t exist or ignore that people in this sisterhood have MBC, just because the thought of disease progression scares me.
I will continue your advocacy when you are tired, I will keep asking for inclusion and calling out situations that may cause harm for those with MBC. I will be open to listen and learn from you what is truly needed beyond my thoughts and prayers. I promise that I will try my best because I see you. – Laura Rice
Women with MBC need you to be their Ally. Sign the pledge today.
Laura Rice is a wife and mother of three young girls as well as a Freelance Graphic Designer from Collingwood, Ontario. While navigating life after triple-negative breast cancer treatment, Laura found purpose through supporting those diagnosed with cancer as well as those who like herself carry a genetic mutation that predisposes them to developing cancer. Laura is a member of Rethink’s MBC Advisory Board, currently volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society as a Peer to Peer support facilitator and Co Run Director for the Blue Mountain/Collingwood CIBC Run for the Cure.