Monday, October 1, 2012

HOW and Why

Hello Blogosphere, it's been a while...

I was away doing what people do, whether they've been diagnosed with breast cancer or they haven't.  The things people do before breast cancer brings it all to a screeching halt.  I was taking care of my family, working a little, traveling a little and all the time pretending it was the old days when I could live this sort of life.  One of summer days and small boys, beaches and car rides. When drippy ice cream cones were my biggest problem of the day.

Remember days like that?

I spent my summer stepping back from cancer, from this blog.  No appointments to dread, just summer followed by the usual back to school bustle.  I have to admit, it was nice.  I was burnt out from writing about cancer.  From reading of online friends dealing with recurrence, the never ending pink fight.  It's all very draining, and though I thought of expressing it here, I couldn't.

In the two years since this blog's inception, I've had no problem sharing my angst and it was often met with great compassion, understanding and encouragement from our online community, but these days complaining doesn't feel right.  At this very moment in time all is fine with me and I can't complain knowing that.

If I've learned anything from writing here and meeting other women with cancer is there are thousands living these days with metastatic breast cancer and they deserve their place in our blogosphere.  They need to be heard, their stories shared and made to feel they matter because after all, metastatic breast cancer is what kills and it can hit anyone, anytime and I don't ever, ever go a day without remembering that.

So, though I lived a normal summer, acting as if all was right in my world, I felt like an impostor in my own life.

A wife and mother living as if the dormant monster chained in the closet couldn't possibly break free, but it was a lie.  I still looked over my shoulder, wondering, waiting, remembering it touched me once and by its very nature wants to again.

Even with no evidence of disease I can't let it go, because breast cancer doesn't let us go.

No one knows how or why it returns or really why it even starts.  Research is the answer. More research is needed to understand, prevent or cure metastatic breast cancer and only through more research can the initial causes of this hideous, relentless disease be determined.

“We need to go beyond a cure. We need to stop people from ever getting breast cancer in the first place.”
— DR. SUSAN LOVE

Today, October 1, The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is launching HOW, the Health of Women Study.  A worldwide, long-term online study open to women and men 18 years and older with or without breast cancer.  By compiling and studying answers to questions about one's health, family, job, and other topics, researchers will gain a better understanding of breast cancer and its possible causes.

By registering online at HOW you can help put awareness into action.  There is no cost or permanent obligation.  Once registered, you'll receive periodic questionnaires that you can fill out at your convenience.  If you'd rather not participate at any point, you can opt out of further communication.  There's no down side.  Your privacy is protected and your answers may contribute to the future prevention of breast cancer.

For the most part, breast cancer takes us by the hand and leads us down a path of its own choosing.  We stare it down with treatment and surgery hoping for many more years, but by participating in HOW, we're doing something more than waiting.

We're actively helping researchers figure out a way to stop breast cancer once and for all.

So no one need look over their shoulder ever again.

I hope you'll join me in HOW, Health of Women Study.