This blog was originally posted on the Living Beyond Breast Cancer website on September 21, 2015 for their #beyondthebreast campaign.
While you are reading this, I am attempting my first climb up Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 at 14,505 feet.
The stats say that 2 out of 3 people who attempt the mountain on their first try, don’t make it. I am going with two of my girlfriends. You do the math. All of us have been training equally. Not one of us has an advantage over the other. We each have the desire, tenacity and perseverance to conquer the mountain. We each want our summit experience.
But what we don’t know is how each will respond to the high altitude. Or what weather system might be waiting for us at 10, 11, or 12,000 feet. No matter how optimistic, how much we have trained, or are prepared for this climb……
It’s a crap shoot – Something that is random, not based on skill.
All of us may summit, two of us, one of us….or maybe none of us.
It’s just like stage IV metastatic breast cancer – the incurable breast cancer.
You’ve heard these stats.
- 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- approximately 30% of all women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to have metastatic disease regardless of treatment.
But do you know these figures?
- Approximately 40,000 women and men die of metastatic breast cancer every year in the US, and this number has not changed meaningfully in 40 years.(1) Break this down to #110 daily. Yes, daily.
- The median survival from diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer is 2-3 years, and this number has not changed meaningfully in 20 years. (2)
- About 24% of patients with metastatic breast cancer will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.(3)
Living with metastatic breast cancer is also like climbing a tall mountain.
It’s a crap shoot – something that could produce a good or bad result.
In other words, some of us might live a long life (summit) . But statistics show most of us will die from the disease. ( won’t make it to the top)
My climb is a gamble. My life is a gamble.
Yes, I know…..I hear it all the time. “Everyone’s life is a gamble.” It’s true. But the odds are more against me than those who don’t have a metastatic cancer diagnosis.
When I come back down off of the mountain, my hope is that I will be able to share with everyone about my summit experience. But if I’m not able to, then I will share with you about my journey in trying to get to the top…..the challenges, the victories, the moments where I wanted to quit, and the junctures where my dream to summit drove me forward.
As is my intention to share my journey in living with metastatic breast cancer. The good, the bad, the ugly, the inspirational….the reality.
Lesley has partnered with Make Moves, together they are holding their first annual, “Make Moves for #voicesofMBC Climb for the Cure on October 10, 2015. This is an easy 5 mile out and back hike to Echo mountain located in Alta Dena, CA. All proceeds will go Metavivor and Living Beyond Breast Cancer to help advocate and fund a cure for those living with metastatic breast cancer. You can find all the registration information here. If you can not come and hike with us, we have a go fund me account here, where you can help us (me) raise money for the #110 metastatic breast cancer patients that die “EVERY” day. Want more information about metastatic breast cancer, visit this website: MBCN.
Special thanks to Met Up – MBC Exchange to Unleash Power for these statistics and being a voice for the metastatic community. You can find them here on Facebook.
1. Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance Landscape Analysis (2014), p. 8 http://mbcalliance.org/docs/MBCA_Full_Report_Landscape_Analysis.pdf
2. Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance Landscape Analysis (2014), p. 8 http://mbcalliance.org/docs/MBCA_Full_Report_Landscape_Analysis.pdf
3. American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-042725.pdf