It’s time we finally talk about mBC (Metastatic Breast Cancer)

October 27, 2017

As soon as my calendar flipped to October, I felt like hiding under a rock. Very unlike the Nalie you know, right? Why would I want to hide during “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” when for the past 5 years I’ve been shamelessly sharing my journey for the World Wide Web to see?

Notice how my recent content is no longer focused on the diagnosis per se, but more so on “The Nalie Show” and sharing stories of hope? I wasn’t lying when I said launching my inspiring talk show was indeed my biggest dream and a personal challenge, but today I want to come clean and admit… it was also a distraction.

A part of me did not want to accept or admit that I now fall in the category of STAGE 4 – Metastatic Breast Cancer. I didn’t want that label.

I didn’t want to talk about it.

I noticed a lot of people didn’t want to talk about it either… The “incurable” and “terminal” disease.

The more I openly spoke about it, the more bad news I’d receive in return. That’s all it seems to be when you hear the word metastatic [met-uh-stat-ik].

A word not many people hear. A word not many people get. In fact, statistics show that half of Canadians don’t even know what metastatic breast cancer (mBC) is – and I don’t blame them! I used to be that Canadian!

This year, I boldly added “Metastatic Breast Cancer Thriver” in my social media bios and a fellow blogger said, “Omg I LOVE how you call yourself a … what’s that word again? (something like) Fragilistic Breast Cancer Thriver? It’s so empowering!” *rolls eyes*

I had to correct the blogger who thought that metastatic meant something like “fantastic” or “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. I am the type to start trending hashtags… but unfortunately, I did not invent the word metastatic… and I wish it didn’t even exist. I had to explain, “Metastatic means when the breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body like the lungs, liver, bones, brain…”

mBC is the disease that takes the life of approximately 12 women every day in Canada.

Now that October has come along, I am expected and solicited over and over again to wear and promote products with pink ribbons and attend fundraising events with catchy titles with the words “boobies” or “tatas” in it. But truth is…

Whenever I see these campaigns, I can no longer relate. With mBC, I feel isolated. I feel like no one truly gets what it’s like.

The cancer has progressed and it’s now in the lungs. And the thought of it being anywhere else in my body haunts me every day.

It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.

It’s the upsetting feeling I get in my stomach every time I hear someone say, “Omg… I can’t believe I’m turning 30 this year!” as if getting old was a bad thing.

It’s the anxiety I get whenever my phone rings and it’s an “unknown number” so I immediately think it’s the hospital calling to notify that recent scans or blood tests are abnormal.

It’s the long term physical, emotional and financial strain that no one acknowledges because I’m no longer bald, meaning, I no longer have cancer right?

On January 6, 2017- everything changed. My journey of having an early stage breast cancer is significantly different from my journey with mBC.

But one thing that hasn’t changed, is my promise to make a difference. The number one problem about mBC is our fear of addressing it. Yet how can we make a change if no one wants to talk about it? If I feel isolated, that means that the thousands of other Canadian women with mBC feel isolated too.

My mission is to open up the conversation no matter how hard it is. Because that’s the whole point of “The Nalie Show” right? My show sheds light on taboo topics to inspire hope, positivity and light during the darkest days.

It would be hypocritical of me not to talk about it. It would make my entire journey and suffering pointless, if I chose to hide under that rock.

This is why, I chose to be an ambassador for It’s About mBC Time. Because it is time, that you, and I start talking about mBC.

It’s time that we start realizing, like in the video campaign I participated in above, that things like fancy watches and cars are not life’s luxuries… but TIME – TIME IS A LUXURY! It’s our most precious asset. We can’t buy time. So why aren’t we taking advantage of every second? Every moment? What are you going to do with your time, whether you have cancer or not? That has always been my message – To live life to the absolute fullest.

Accepting to be a part of this campaign was by far my biggest challenge as it forced me to accept that I am indeed a part of this harsh reality. But don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that I accept that mBC will take me. Because another thing that didn’t change is my determination…

The way I see it… is that if only 20-30% of women first diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease in their lifetime, and I happen to be a part of that, then why can’t I be part of the 22% that will survive 5 years or longer after diagnosis? Or better yet, THRIVE! (People with mBC have an estimated 5-year relative survival rate of 22%.)

The bright side about sharing my mBC journey was discovering miracle stories like Stephanie Seban from LA who has been thriving with mBC for over 6 years at 37 years old. I also connected with Mei-Lin Yee, a fellow Montrealer in her 50s, who has been thriving for over 8 years, and is living without any form of treatment. These are the stories I look up to. This is the story I aim to share.

There is so much more to be done. But this is my first step. If you want to take the leap with me…

SHARE this post and visit www.mbctime.ca to learn more about metastatic breast cancer and the needs of women living with the disease.

It’s time to highlight the unique needs of women living with metastatic breast cancer (mBC) and give them the attention they deserve. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN), Rethink Breast Cancer (Rethink), the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (QBCF) and a leading research-based pharmaceutical company in Canada have partnered for a second year for the It’s About mBC Time campaign to raise awareness of the important challenges women with mBC face. It’s time we collaborate to increase efforts to ensure that Canadians with mBC have access to supportive resources, clinical research, and funding for innovative treatments as quickly as possible.

All statistics taken from www.mbctime.ca

Note: This post was sponsored by a leading research-based pharmaceutical company in Canada. All opinions are my own.

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