How Three Women Became Dear Friends via Their MBC Diagnoses
My name is Lisa and my mBC story began on July 22, 2015, when I tripped over my stationary bicycle and broke my neck, my C2 to be exact. I refer to it as my "bicycle accident," so much cooler! My breast cancer had spread to my bones, weakened my vertebrae and allowed the fracture. I had been diagnosed with stage IIA eight years earlier and thought it was all behind me.
A few months later, a friend told me about another friend of hers who had just been diagnosed with mBC, having never had a previous BC diagnosis. I called her, and Becky and I have been friends since. I remembered the shock and fear of my diagnosis and hoped to help her navigate through this difficult time.
In April of 2017, our little mutual support team became a support group of three. Becky's niece married and Becky met the groom's mother, Susan. Susan learned of Becky's mBC diagnosis, so when she received her own mBC diagnosis three months later, she called on Becky for support. I was so gratified when Becky told me that she wanted to help Susan the way I had helped her. Becky was a great resource for Susan, as those who have walked the mBC road truly understand the shock, fear, and sadness that come with it initially. Susan also had never had a previous diagnosis of BC and was shocked to learn of her diagnosis.
Becky and her husband, Bill, invited Susan and I and our spouses to join them on a 10-day trip to Ireland led by their priest in May of 2018. It was on this trip that I met Susan. We had a wonderful time in Ireland with our spouses, touring the beautiful countryside, visiting quaint Irish towns and historic sites, and meeting the locals over a pint at the local pubs. We even climbed Croagh Patrick Mountain, aka "The Reek," which is no small feat! It is the mountain where St. Patrick fasted and prayed for 40 days in 441 A.D., and is quite treacherous and challenging! The story goes that from the mountaintop, St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland (of course, there were never any there). The priest, Fr. Tommy, told us that the tradition is to make the climb a pilgrimage with the purpose of seeking favor from God for one's requests. He suggested we follow that tradition, and we did. Of course, our request was a cure for all cancer.
Our Ireland trip solidified our friendship and our commitment to travel this road together. Our stories are all so similar. We are in our 60s and have very supportive husbands and family. As we shared our stories, we learned that we had all been meticulous about having our mammograms and were really shocked to find that we had not been able to protect ourselves. Susan is even a retired RN, having performed breast exams for other women, and reminding them to be diligent with their healthcare. We all thought we were doing all the right things and were protected. The diagnosis doesn't mean that one has failed to get regular mammograms or perform self-exams, or has otherwise either not done what they should have, or has done what they shouldn't. MBC is no respecter of persons.
We hope our story serves to inspire other women who may be new to the mBC community. We are active and busy women with full and rewarding lives, who happen to have a terminal disease. To look at us, you would never know this! We are grandmothers; we love to travel, shop, read, garden, hike, kayak, dance, and laugh. We choose to not let our diagnoses define us! Becky, Susan, and I plan to continue to travel together as often as possible, and to deepen our friendship. We continue to communicate often, ending our texts with #Livingintothecure!
We hope that our story may be an encouragement to others living with mBC and that they may be inspired to live their best lives!