The quantitative answer would require digging into statistics and the like. But from my personal vantage point — which I often liken to standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and looking down — the answer is an emphatic YES!
While being on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis is never the place anyone wants to be, I’ve been told more than once that if I have to have cancer, breast cancer is the one to have. There are more research dollars and treatment options for breast cancer than any other type. And the progress — oh the progress! Treatment options, my doctor often reminds me, change in weeks and months, not years.
I know that the three drugs I’m on didn’t even exist four years ago. Human trials for the experimental drug I’m taking — the PARP inhibitor — began just last year.
In my quiet moments, I’ve often wondered if we’re ever going to Find the Cure. I truly believe that we are, and that we’re not far off. Football star Brian Picolo (Brian’s Song) succumbed to testicular cancer because there simply wasn’t a treatment available in his time that could cure him. What a heartbreak.
Years later, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with Stage 4 testicular cancer — and with the benefit of new, platinum-based chemotherapy drugs, he was cured. I asked one of my doctors about this a few weeks ago and she told me that yes indeed, Stage 4 testicular cancer is now curable.
Stage 4 breast cancer — what I’m battling right now — is not curable. Not yet. But I believe that if it can happen for testicular cancer, it can and will happen for breast cancer. We need to keep the faith, keep moving toward that ultimate goal of a cure. I see it every day, on a very personal level.
The weekend of August 12-14, three of my friends will be taking on the challenge of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Three Day: Marybeth Greene, Jennifer Amprim Wolf and Trish Baden MacDonald. That’s 20 miles a day — 60 miles total. They walk by day and camp out at night, getting in a little shut-eye and reenergizing, rehydrating so they are ready to take on the challenge again the next morning. I’ve not yet been able to participate in the Three Day, but I hope I can someday. I’ve heard it’s rewarding, but also, grueling.
I’ve seen first-hand what these women do in honor and memory of the loved ones who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Daily walking schedules of miles and miles, months and months in advance, to get themselves ready. Special shoes to endure that kind of mileage — not to mention researching the kind of socks that will get them through those three long, often very hot days. A month or so ago, Jennifer and I had a long discussion about socks. Yes, socks. Success in this challenge is indeed in the details.
On top of all that, there’s the fundraising arm of the Three Day. In order to participate in the walk, these breast cancer warriors not only need to begin training many months in advance, but they each need to raise $2,300. While Marybeth has already met her goal, Jennifer and Trish still need financial support. With the walk just six weeks away, we haven’t hit the panic button yet, but we’re not too far off. Jennifer is about half-way to her goal; Trish about 40 percent.
So, I’m going to do something I haven’t done before on my blog. If you’ve been thinking of making a donation toward finding the cure for breast cancer, consider supporting my friends Jennifer Amprim Wolf and Trish Baden MacDonald in the Breast Cancer Three Day. They’re both walking in honor of me, as well as in honor and memory of others who are fighting or have fought this battle.
Many times, people tell me they can’t go anywhere without running into someone who has been touched by breast cancer in one way or another.
We’re all in this together. Let’s be in it to end it.
(To donate on behalf of either Jennifer or Trish, visit their Three Day homepages by clicking on their names above. I’m on my way there now.)
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson