A Post I Didn’t Want to Write

In October we’re all inundated with breast cancer stories. And each one hits us in a different way, especially if you have any experience with the disease. And really, isn’t that all of us at this point?

A colleague told me about her friend, Meredith Israel Thomas, and her story is as heartbreaking as it gets. But if you’re a mom of a young child, like Meredith is and like I am and like most of you are, it’s almost physically painful to read what she and her husband Gary are going through. (That’s Meredith and Gary with their daughter; the photo was taken at a wedding just last month.)

Meredith found a lump in her breast when she was 25. It was found to be benign. Then the lump grew, so she had a lumpectomy. Nearly 10 years later, she felt a large mass under her armpit – and at age 36 was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had spread to, among other places, her liver, lymph nodes, spine, and ribs. By this time she had a 20-month old daughter, Niomi.

Meredith has been through three years of treatments, but as she posted last week on her CaringBridge blog, her life is coming to an end. Her liver is failing; her doctor believes she’s down to her final few weeks. She’s been blogging regularly for as long as she can and it’s all in an attempt to help her 5-year-old daughter someday understand what happened, to know her mother better, and to see for herself just how hard her mom fought in order to have a life with her family for as long as she possibly could.

The message Meredith wants to get out to all of you is how crucial early detection is. “The doctors missed my cancer,” she wrote. “By the time they paid attention it was too late. I’m pissed off about them missing it. I am SO ANGRY about the amount of young women I am meeting everyday who are being diagnosed earlier and earlier with this horrible disease. Breast cancer awareness is amazing, but it doesn’t focus on early detection or the young women who are fighting this disease.”

One of our country’s most prominent breast cancer researchers, Susan Love, M.D., agrees that awareness isn’t enough. That’s why the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation has recently launched its Health of Women (HOW) study. The goal is to learn how breast cancer starts and how to prevent it. The online study is open to all women, anywhere in the world, and with or without breast cancer. If you’re looking for a way to help the breast cancer cause, consider this. It costs nothing but your time and has the potential to prevent our children from ever being in the position Meredith’s daughter is in right now.

Meredith, on behalf of moms everywhere, thank you for sharing your experience. Your message is coming through loud and clear. And it is going to make a difference.

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  1. by Tammy

    On October 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    My heart goes out to this family as they face my biggest fear.

    As hard as this story was to read, thank you for sharing it.

    Tammy