She looked around the room and said something like "next year one of us won't be here. I think it's going to be me". Mandi said that. And just like that a year later she is gone.
I will not talk about my own fear of recurrence I will only discuss what it has been like losing friends at a rapid rate. When I was diagnosed I honestly thought everyone lived that you didn't die from this disease (thanks pink bullshit for that lie). Then I met Lisa Adams via twitter and Annie Goodman and Seporah Raizer and my eyes were opened. I learned that not only cancer can come back but it comes back and attacks and kills. Yes I know I have many friends living through this stage 4 diagnosis 9 years out, 6 years and even 14 years out but what about those who die in a blink. Mandi was at the beach just a few days ago now she is gone just like that.
Two years ago MetUp crew decided to stage a die in at LBBC at the exact time I got a call from Mara, Seporah's sister telling me that she was dead. Ironic that she was one of the 113 that died that day as her friends were making a strong statement-actually it's so much more than a statement it is reality. This is something I feel society is turning their back to. 113 people dying daily is an epidemic, it is a crisis, it needs attention ASAP not “making advances” . How does 41,070 men and women dying this year not make headlines??
Last year I went to LBBC mostly for Seporah because I wanted to honor her by continuing to be her voice. I went to the Die In and even spoke about just that. About how I may not be stage 4 but I am mad, sad and demanding more for my friends who are. Our brilliant friend Mandi was there as was my sassy friend Jodie. Honestly, we had a blast! Laughing until we hurt and making memories for life. Good thing because they are both gone now. Mandi’s words haunt me for this year’s conference to the point I am not sure I can go.
When will it stop? When will we stop being from dying? I just don't understand why people keep dying. Where is the fucking cure we are all racing for? I know there has been advances in treatment but frankly, that's horse shit. If you were Jodie's mom or son or husband wouldn't you demand more? If you were Mandi's husband wouldn't you expect these advances to save her life? Let me explain that some of these fabulous people are not dying in a hospital bed, sometimes they are at the beach one day and gone the next. They are out with their children and have a heart attack. They are doing what they love and a blog clot takes over. When they die it does not say "metastatic cancer" it will say heart failure, liver failure, organ failure, blog clot. So how do they count? How is their death even measured? Sometimes I feel like people don't care unless it happens to them, I want that not to be true but I wonder.
Today I sit and cry at the death of a friend again. It does not get easier ever it gets worse. I want more for them for their families and for all my stage 4 friends living with this illness and dying for a cure. Do you want real numbers from someone living with this? Go read Stick it to Stage 4 and let Susan explain what a day is like. I actually can't count on my hands how many people I know that have died in the last two weeks, don't you find that ridiculous and heart breaking all at once?!? I do. No tiara today nothing but a girl who had cancer and is trying to understand why she is watching her friends die.
Photo credit The Molly Project