What’s it gonna do, give me cancer?

Since my diagnosis, I’ve had a lot of people ask me things like “Are you allowed to eat that?” and “are you allowed to drink alcohol?” I usually tell them that my oncologist told me, and I quote, “Under no circumstances should you give up chocolate or bacon” and that after one of my appointments, he said, again a quote, “You should go have a margarita now.” He’s probably embarrassed that I’m sharing this, because I doubt that’s the advice he gives most of his patients. But those of us with terminal diagnoses live in a different world than the rest of you.

Here’s the thing: a lot of what you read about cancer is information that comes from studying people with early stage cancer, not metastatic disease. It’s aimed at “curing” early stage disease, and preventing recurrence. When you already have metastatic disease, you have an incurable illness. The goal isn’t to prevent recurrence; new tumors are going to happen.

Let me say that again: for us metsters, new tumors are going to happen. The only people they don’t happen to are dead people. The only people who don’t die of their metastatic breast cancer are the ones who die of something else before the cancer gets around to killing them. As others have said, we metsters all die of or with our disease.

So, since the goal isn’t to cure us, and we know we’re going to die, what is the goal? It’s to let us have a good quality of life for as long as possible. If eating bacon and chocolate and drinking a margarita makes me happy, my oncologist sure as shit isn’t going to tell me to stop doing it, especially given the dearth of research supporting the idea that eating bacon and chocolate and having the occasional margarita is going to shorten the lifespan of metsters like me. While I’m alive, I want to live. I can abstain when I’m dead, which will be soon enough.

It’s the same with treatment decisions. Early stage disease comes with the traditional slash-and-burn treatments designed to kill every last stupid cancer cell, in hopes that your cancer will never return. Metastatic disease comes with an understanding that even if you cut out every tumor, more will eventually pop up. That’s how metastatic disease works–it spreads, that’s its MO. So, why put you through treatments that make you feel horrible, if they’re not going to cure you? That’s why you don’t get 6 weeks of radiation after your mastectomy; you get 3. In fact, you might not even get a mastectomy. You don’t get 6 rounds of chemo; you get 4. Because, again, the goal is to give you a good quality of life for as long as possible, not to cure your cancer. So, treatment for metsters is a balance, between doing things that will buy you time, and making sure that time isn’t filled with pain and puke and otherwise feeling like shit.

That’s why I’m so glib with people when they ask about whether I’m allowed to eat this or that. If cure was on the table, of course I’d be doing everything imaginable to get to cure. But cure is NOT on the table. I hate to keep harping on that, because I know it hurts the people I love when they have to face that, but it’s the truth. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. So, while I’m alive, I’m going to live. And that includes eating bacon and chocolate, and drinking a margarita once in a while.

As my college BFF’s mother-in-law, who died of metastatic breast cancer, used to say, “What’s it gonna do, give me cancer?”

We both love our kids

You guys, I’m super excited. Today is a big day for the momming community because it’s Moms for Moms Day! CT Working Moms and their awesome Campaign for Judgment Free Motherhood have teamed up with TheBump.com to organize moms around the net to show their support for moms to stop judging and being judged, and to come together to support one another. Which, you guys know that’s TOTALLY what this blog is about, so I’m super excited to be participating, with the post below. If you guys dig the message, jump in the mix today on Facebook or Twitter, with the hash tag #moms4moms.

I have a cousin in Wisconsin who I haven’t seen since we were kids, but we’re Facebook friends, so we keep up with each other’s lives. She’s got two kids, and she loves NASCAR and professional wrestling. Like, she posts on FB about how she loves or hates some NASCAR driver or how happy she is that some wrestler brought in the pain or whatever it is you say about wrestlers, is that what you say about wrestlers? I know nothing about NASCAR or wrestling. I watched WWF back when it was still called WWF back in law school when I was dating The Hubs, because The Hubs and his roommates watched it, but I never really got it. And NASCAR? I know even less about it. Is there a driver named Jeff Gordon? that sounds familiar? something something Junior? It’s just not my thing. But you know what? She’s my cousin, and we do have one thing in common: we both love our kids. (And the Seahawks.)

My college BFF is a Republican. She’s also a church-every-Sunday Catholic and her oldest son is an alter boy. We all know I am a heathen, and I am most definitely not a Republican. She also doesn’t drink and doesn’t eat dessert. Have you read my Girl Scout cookie cocktail recipe? But you know what? She’s my BFF, and we both love our kids. (And Star Trek. And very bad puns.)

Our neighbor who runs the daycare where we send The Girl (and where we send The Boy during school breaks) is a vegan Mormon. That means she doesn’t drink coffee (GASP) and she doesn’t eat bacon. I love bacon so much. Pig really is the most delicious animal, isn’t it? And we’ve already discussed my heathenism. But you know what? She is an awesome neighbor and an awesome child care provider, and we both love our kids. (And going on cruises.)

Everyone in this world is different. Every kid is different, and every mom is different. But the longer I live and the more moms I meet, the more I realize that our differences are interesting and worth acknowledging, but what’s really powerful is that no matter how different we are, we all love our kids. I feel like if we can all remember that every mom loves her children, maybe we can stop judging each other for our differences, and focus on what we have in common: our love for our children. Because when moms love more and judge less, we can make the world a better place, for all of us, and for all of our children.

I was going to finish with a photo of me and my local BFF because she loves to run, and I hate running. But you know what? I love her new baby and I don’t want to share my nasty cold with him. So instead, I’ll just share a link to her blog here so you guys can go over there and share some love with a new mom!