My friend Sarah, from Sprucehill Farm and Mothers With Cancer, passed away last night after a KICK ASS fight against the cancer in her body. Sarah was diagnosed in 2008; we met here shortly after her diagnosis, and we became fast friends. Never well enough to drive at the same time, we never once met in person, but IT DIDN’T MATTER. We were still fast friends and tight always, here, on FB, on Twitter, on the blog, and on the MWC backchannel. Today, I grieve her loss.
It may be unseemly, but I admit that my grief is mixed with anger. There were not enough drugs to hold Sarah’s metastatic cancer at bay so that she could live to finish raising her darling children. There is not enough research on metastatic cancer now (only 5% of all cancer research), and I don’t know how to stop this from happening to my friends. Yes, I’m very grateful for her years since diagnosis, and I’m terribly grateful for mine, but I’m selfish — I want MORE.
This week is a good week. (Unlike last, when I was in pain and my hair was falling out and my kids fell apart — it was simply unbloggable.) I have energy to be out and about for half the day, and I’m spending it as a guest at a science team meeting. I went yesterday, and it was so invigorating to be around scientists again, learning about advances in areas I used to live and breathe, and others that I knew only glancingly. It’s good to be around people, and to have friends visit, and to take my kid to t-ball. These are good days, and I work or play or rest and then soothe my bones each night by floating them in water, the only relief they can get from the meds that are trying to starve the cancer from multiplying in my own bones, where it has set up residence.
My oncologist checkup is this afternooon; no worries, just blood tests to make sure my kidneys and liver still function, and to get the scrip for the next scan to see if the cancer has receded or grown in the last six weeks. If it hasn’t grown, we stay the course and have Zometa infusion every 12 weeks and Femara daily. If it has, well, then we move to something else. “Something else” includes a number of chemotherapies that have been shown to work on primary tumors and may work for a time on metastasis, depending on the individual. There are a number of chemotherapies now, and metastatic patients like me move through them one at a time after the gentler options are finished. Like Sarah did. Ever kind and ever brave, she nonetheless struggled with the treatments last Fall, moving from one to the next and starting Xeloda when I did. It didn’t work, for either of us, and it put us both in bed. The dirty little secret of cancer is treatment sucks. The worst, though, is what everyone knows. Cancer sucks, and it kills, and it’s not pretty in any way, shape or form. And today, I’m angry that it took my friend, despite everything she did to fight the beast. She did everything right. She took the chemo, the drugs, the surgery, the hair loss, she raged against the weakness and she loved her family and her friends with a fierce passion every single day.
Rest now, Sarah. You are loved, and you will not be forgotten.