SHARE published a poem I wrote during the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) this month. I attended an evening workshop along with a handful of other Patient Advocates attending SABCS where we learned about how to write interesting pieces for publication. Eli Lilly and Company sponsored this event.
After a seven-minute writing exercise, we were asked to read what we wrote about living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). This is what I wrote:
Cry. Stomp your feet. Curse God. Feel sorry for yourself.
Mourn the future life you won’t have.
Go to sleep. Wake up. Greet the day.
Think about what will make you happy for the next 5 minutes. Do that.
Think about who you love and why you love them.
Prepare yourself to give the news, but only to those who won’t stomp on your soul.
Think about how you want to live your new life story. What do you want? What don’t you want? How much do you want to know what’s lays behind the medical curtain?
Plan your questions for your doctor. Don’t sit there and be dumb. Ask. Ask. Ask, until you understand, even if your doctor rolls her eyes.
Come up with a plan. Sleep on it.
The next day, pretend you made a different decision. Live with that.
Then on the third day, decide what you want to do and go for it.
And remember, by all means, do no max out your credit cards. You may live long enough to have to pay it all back.
These thoughts are based on general advice I’ve given over the phone to many frightened women who were recently diagnosed with MBC. These callers connected with me through the helplines of After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, or SHARE.