I hear from women around the globe who all have one thing in common: Breast Cancer. We may be from different countries, but our emotions and fears are the same. Are we going to live? How much do we have to suffer? How do I possibly get through this? The power of the internet never ceases to amaze me and because of the push of one little “Translate” button on their computer screen, women are connected no matter what language we speak. Every week when I look at my statistics from WordPress, chances are I discover another country. This week it was Brunei Darrusalem. I’ve always been pretty good at geography, but I’ve never heard of that country. It is on the coast of Borneo in Southeast Asia. In total, people from 138 countries have visited my website mostly looking for two things: COURAGE and HOPE
What surprises me is that the treatment for breast cancer is just about the same worldwide for more advanced breast cancers which is Adriamycin Cytoxan and Taxol or Taxotere in the chemotherapy realm. And just when I get a tad feeling sorry for me as I have to drive 60 miles (95 kilometres) one way to see my Oncologist, I get an email that puts it all into perspective. Women who live in extremely remote areas that have to fly in a small float plane every week to and from treatment, women who live on islands that have to take a ferry or a boat to treatment, and women who are forced to relocate sometimes thousands of miles away from friends and family because they feel treatment close to home isn’t as good. They leave everything familiar to seek healing.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected emails I received was from a cloistered nun from a Monastery in Australia. One of her sisters at the Monastery who was not computer literate, was undergoing Chemotherapy and needed some help and information. Recently, I got a follow-up email from her telling me how well that Sister was now doing after treatment! These nuns pray for me, I am happy to report!
Today I apologized to a young mom who lives in Mexico for my wrong beliefs. She was diagnosed at age 34 with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. She went to Houston, Texas for surgery and is receiving chemotherapy in Mexico as she wanted to be near her husband and daughter while undergoing treatment. I am sorry to admit that when I think of treatment in Mexico, I immediately think it is substandard to the United States. Where this young woman is being treated in a modern hospital in a mid-size city in Mexico, that is definitely not true. Her Oncologist just returned from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) conference in Chicago and is up on the latest and newest treatments for breast cancer. He hospitalizes her overnight after each AC chemo to keep a watchful eye on her after infusion since she is receiving dose dense. She tells me that her hospital room in Mexico is much nicer than the one she had in Houston.
Sadly, I hear from women who lose their jobs because of breast cancer. One woman from Ireland who lives in a very small town and was fired from her job during treatment, knows that it will be extremely difficult for her to find a new job as everyone in town knows she had breast cancer. She said that being fired from her job was more traumatic for her than being diagnosed with breast cancer.
I cry each and every time when I hear from women of young children who pray they can make it to their children’s high school graduation. It does not matter what country they live. And I cry even more when I hear from breast cancer survivors who never thought they would make it to that milestone in their children’s lives, and they have as their kids may now be in college, getting married, or starting families of their own. These survivors never take that for granted!
So if you are in the middle of chemo, facing a Mastectomy, or scared silly about Radiation or Radiotherapy as it is called in some countries, remember your sisters from around the world. We are all in this together.