26 years ago, I went to Washington DC to lobby and rally to raise more research dollars for breast cancer.
It was 1991.
My fellow survivors and I were young and angry and very certain we would find a way to cure the disease that threatened our lives within 10 years.
We were naive. It turns out there wasn’t one kind of breast cancer to kill, but many kinds.
Too many of the young women marching with me didn’t make it. Breast cancer in young women can be vicious and fast growing. I went on a talk show with 5 other young survivors in the 90’s. I’m the only one still living. I know for a fact, some of them would be living today if we knew then what we know now.
There is STILL no cure for breast cancer.
BUT, because we stood together, because some of us kept living, breathing and daring to raise holy hell, we have finally and truly changed the breast cancer treatment and support landscape.
I was thinking about this as my daughter and I worked our way through yoga poses for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Reach and Raise on the Philadelphia Art Museum Steps along with my amazing friends, the I Dare Me Damsels.
I was thinking about a friend of mine recently diagnosed with breast cancer; a young woman in her prime with a career and children. The surgeries and treatments and targeted therapies for her are light years beyond what my generation and my mother’s generation faced.
And I was thinking, as I stood on the stage with Jamil Rivers, a metastatic breast cancer survivor, that back when I was diagnosed, metastatic patients were rarely seen or heard. They just didn’t live long. Today Jamil and others roar in defiance and with new drugs that keep many working and living productive lives with this cancer for decades.
Yoga leader Jennifer Schelter and song chanter Yvette Om moved us together; almost two thousand of us in unison.
We don’t hide. We don’t stay quiet.
And as a board member, I’m proud Living Beyond Breast Cancer makes sure no one has to go through this disease alone. No one has to be without reliable, medically sound information to make decisions about their own treatment. There was little when I was diagnosed. LBBC was just forming in 1991.
I was thinking all of that while in my downward dog pose, seeing my grown daughter behind me. I’m grateful I’m still here with her, to see this change, and standing with an army that’s not going anywhere.
The breast cancer landscape is better. The diagnosis is still life altering, terrifying and sometimes fatal.
And so, we’re here.
That is why we need to be (and keep) daring until breast cancer is gone.