Last July, the last time I published a blog post, I talked about how I was ‘breaking-up’ with advocacy. Between the pandemic and the death of my partner in crime, Tori Geib, I didn’t have the stomach for it the way I did in previous years. The constant (it sure felt constant) petty drama between advocates was also pretty draining. In addition, my son graduating from college, his wedding, and the announcement of their first child. My priorities had shifted.
Since January 2022, my life has revolved around my perfectly perfect beautiful peanut of a granddaughter, Piper. I had no idea my cold black heart could love a tiny person I didn’t personally birth as much as I love her. She smiles SO big I literally could cry. I shouldn’t know her and for reasons I may never understand, the universe had other plans. I’m super cool with that.
But I digress…..
Then on August 8th, they pulled me back in. An iconic celebrity, Olivia Newton-John, died from Metastatic Breast Cancer. It was widely known that she had been diagnosed in 1992 with breast cancer. She went through all the standards of care – mastectomy, chemo, and reconstruction. She was considered ‘cured’ (insert eye-roll). In 2013, she discovered cancer had spread to her bones. Specifically, her shoulder. Then in 2017, metastasis was found in her spine. It was then, in 2017, that Stage 4 was mentioned, but let me be clear – Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2013. The same year I was diagnosed. However, when she died, the media reported she had a 30 yr (choke) ‘battle’ with breast cancer. I had expected to see battle language from the media but what I didn’t expect was all the inaccurate information that followed. Dame Olivia did not have active breast cancer for THIRTY YEARS. There were 21 yrs that she had no evidence of disease – meaning she was not in active treatment. It was only in 2013 when cancer metastasized to her shoulder and again in 2017 when it spread to her spine did she have active cancer.
The media reported that she had ‘spine cancer’ or she died from breast cancer when it was metastatic breast cancer. Words matter here because breast cancer that doesn’t leave the breast isn’t lethal. When it spreads to a major organ like bones, well, then it’s incurable. It’s Stage 4. There isn’t a Stage 5. Reading all of this inaccurate information made my head want to explode. I couldn’t hold it in. I couldn’t stay silent. So, I took to Twitter and created a thread of five tweets to make some points clear. I had no idea that almost 15K people would end up seeing that thread or that it would be re-tweeted 60 times.
I definitely didn’t expect to get an email from journalist Beth Greenfield, Senior Editor at Yahoo.com on August 10th. She saw my tweet thread. She wanted to talk to me. It took me 3 seconds to email her back. I am no stranger to interviews. I know that sometimes what I want to be included and published doesn’t happen. We talked later that day. She truly understood where I was coming from because she had lived through a breast cancer diagnosis. I felt really good after our conversation. While I wouldn’t know for sure until I read her article, I was confident that she wanted her readers to understand what I was trying to convey on Twitter.
The article came out late on August 17th. I didn’t see it until the following morning via a tweet from a friend and fellow advocate Jo Taylor. I am super proud of this article and cannot thank Beth Greenfield enough for writing it. What I am most proud of is that she included the organizations I told her about that the public should seriously consider if they want to help further research for metastatic breast cancer. Those organizations are: BCRF, Metavivor & The Cancer Couch Foundation
I haven’t changed my mind about actively advocating. While I did get worked up over this ridiculous confusion about metastatic breast cancer, I don’t have the bandwidth to get back into being an advocate and traveling full time. I plan on spending time with family, my husband and (as much time as possible my kids will allow) with Piper.
If you missed it, you can read the article featured in Yahoo Life