One thing is for sure: My life never stays the same. As they say, "it's always something."
Last week, I was surprised to hear that my white blood cell count was so low that the doctor had me take a break from my medication and rest. I did rest— or as much as someone with a Type A personality can rest. And then I went back to the doctor today and was shocked to find that my white cell count had fallen even lower. I thought I’d reached my low point last week! Apparently not, but I'm tapped out as of today.
I agreed to an injection of Neupogen, a manmade form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells. We'll see. I plan to spend the next week resting, which I obviously need.
As October comes to a close, I hope that the endless blast of talk-show interviews and PSAs about breast cancer has helped inform the public that prevention is possible. Breast self-exams, exercise, being knowledgeable about your risks— these steps can all make a difference.
It used to be that women did not even think about getting a mammogram until they reached their 40s or 50s. But today, more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30s and— I hate it as I type the words— in their 20s. What may be most chilling is that simply being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer. Only about 3 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Still, a handful of wonderful organizations and support groups for young survivors are out there. And I strongly believe that research will reveal the answers. For someone like me, with stage IV breast cancer— incurable, metastatic cancer— science is our only hope.
Research and the development of new drugs is the only thing that will keep us alive. I believe with the advances being made, cancer will become a disease that is treatable by medication. It will become a disease you can live with and not die from.
Wouldn't that be a gift from God?
There are fewer than 48 hours left of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do something special for a woman you know with breast cancer. Drop off a card. Give her a hug. Give her a call. Reach out.
For those who have passed, take some time to think about them. Think about what it is that made them so special to you. And, if you're like my dad, go light a candle.
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Noreen can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.