I often wonder how he will live without me. He has been so faithful in caring for me. He loves me with all his heart as I do him. Oh, how I love him! It breaks my heart to leave him.
I don’t regret my choices. I don’t mind that I never had children. I have had so much joy in my life.
I know I’ve always looked younger than my years. People always gasp when they hear I’m 66. I had a big party for my 65th birthday. I didn’t know how many birthdays I had left … and I wanted my friends from various walks of my life to meet each other. It was such a fun birthday and I’m glad I did it because I was pretty sick for my 66th and I doubt I will live until my 67th at the end of June. I don’t even think I’ll live until the end of this week.
Most people would say that I’ve had a full life and indeed, I have! I’m so grateful for everything I’ve gotten to do. However, I want so much more! My life expectancy without metastatic breast cancer is 80 – 90 years old … I’m leaving too soon.
You won’t find me on any fundraising posters. Quite frankly, in spite of my youthful looking face (Chinese genes working in my favor!), I’m too damn old to conjure up any sympathy. People think about me, ‘Oh, while it’s sad she’s dying, it’s not as sad as a young woman with young children.’
That’s just not true. It’s so very, very sad. I may not be an important person in this world, but I know I’m important to some people. I’m not even the average age of death for metastatic breast cancer yet … that number is 68 and I know that’s an impossible age for me to reach.
I feel like my life is a disposable one when it comes to metastatic disease. I used to support organizations directing funds to metastatic research but it became easier to direct donations to my own research oncologist as she has given me more time with my beloved husband than we ever expected to receive.
Social media has created a huge social divide. While I know that everyone with metastatic disease needs support, I have never seen anything like “Senior Citizens Breast Cancer Group” or “The Unique Needs of the Older Woman with Breast Cancer” whereas I see “Young Survivors … “ or “Young Women with Breast Cancer” or “Young Women’s Breast Cancer Unique Needs” all the time. I think what is often forgotten is that I’ve been young before. I understand the dreams and aspirations. I’ve walked that road of life and now I’m walking the same road of death.
I am so incredibly sad for anyone with this disease. It’s not fair for anyone. My heart breaks for the young women who die. My local support group has lost several in the past two years. However, we have also lost several older women and their loss is equally tragic. We have a hard time bouncing back from these deaths because we know our time is coming. My time is coming soon.
I hear your voices as you talk to me. I know you are there. I know you love me. I wish I could wake up enough to tell you that I love you, too.
(The above is a small part of three years of friendship with Helen and a reflection of numerous conversations that happened in those three years.)