Susan Fariss

Posting since March 29, 2016

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Posts I've Started
Let's Pretend the Bride Does Not Have Cancer
March 29, 2016
 In my time dealing with cancer, I've discovered that not only is cancer an illness, but it is often used as an identifier as well. After diagnosis, women are referred to as breast cancer survivors. If a woman is diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic breast cancer, she is referred to as terminal. It's as if the cancer becomes an integral part of a person's identity. We are no longer just wives, mothers, co-workers, daughters, sisters or nieces. We are "the niece with cancer," "the co-worker who is dying," "the sister who is a breast cancer survivor."

In the metastatic breast cancer community, women debate what to call themselves. They don't feel comfortable with the “survivor” label ...

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January 01, 1970

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Comments I've Made
Defiantly Alive
October 26, 2015
Bethie: I understood. :-) I really appreciate your measured response. Susan

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Finding Calm in the Face of Cancer
October 08, 2015
Mike: I'm with you on that. I think you're right, there's no way to stop the visits. We can just hopefully shorten them. :-)

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Finding Calm in the Face of Cancer
October 07, 2015
Laura Mary: May we both have many, many years. Try the breathing technique. It really works. I actually started doing the coloring book thing, and it is relaxing. I'm like you. I look pretty calm on the outside, but inside I can be in total turmoil. One of my main techniques of fluffing it off is to joke about the situation. When I went for my scans yesterday, I checked in at the reception desk by announcing, "I'm here for my morning of discomfort." Laughter eases the situation for me. Susan

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Finding Calm in the Face of Cancer
October 07, 2015
Ginny: Thank you so much. I also love Jimmy Fallon, and a friend was telling me about lavender oil the other day. Btw, I did use lavender oil for my hot flashes. A friend gave me an inhaler called Meno-O-Pause (really) which was lavender oil in a tube. I would inhale for a minute or two, and voila, better. :-)

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The Other Shoe
October 04, 2015
Tori. Damn, damn, damn. I am so sorry to hear this. I'm praying for you. It sucks to be part of the dread club. My scans are on Tuesdays. Thank you for the tip on brain MRIs

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Finding Calm in the Face of Cancer
September 28, 2015
When life seems overwhelming, keep calm and carry on.It's 1:00 a.m. and I'm still awake. I've been waking up every hour all night long. I have a new pain spot on my back and I have become convinced that the cancer is growing. So I am scared ... very, very scared. 

Cancer is terrifying. Michael J. Fox describes his experience of Parkinson’s Disease as crossing the street and getting stuck in the middle of the road as a bus hurtles towards you. You know that the bus is going to hit you, you just don’t know when and how bad it’s going to be. Learning to remain calm while watching the bus ...

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Defiantly Alive
August 01, 2015
Marissa, you go, girl

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Defiantly Alive
July 31, 2015
Trillium. Fantastic! We can both be defiantly be alive. :-)

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Defiantly Alive
July 29, 2015
Btw, here is an excellent analysis of the statistics of metastatic breast cancer done by the folks over at the Metstatic Breast Cancer Network. MBCN Responds: Metastatic Recurrence Rate Statistics https://mbcnbuzz.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/mbcn-responds-metastatic-recurrence-rate-statistics/

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Defiantly Alive
July 27, 2015
Emma: Thank you so much. That means a lot to me.

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Defiantly Alive
July 25, 2015
The point if article was advocating for yourself and the need for more research in Stage IV cancer was. Every woman who has had breast cancer has a good chance of that cancer spreading. And when we've moved to Stage IV, our lives are still important.

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Defiantly Alive
July 25, 2015
The point if article was advocating for yourself and the need for more research in Stage IV cancer was. Every woman who has had breast cancer has a good chance of that cancer spreading. And when we've moved to Stage IV, our lives are still important.

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Defiantly Alive
July 25, 2015
Musa. I really appreciate the perspective re the studies. You are one of the few voices out there for metastatic breast cancer. Still, these studies point illustrate the next for far more studies in metastatic breast cancer. Only 7% of research goes toward metastatic breast cancer (mbc), yet Stage IV breast cancer patients are 30% of the breast cancer population.

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Defiantly Alive
July 24, 2015
 Let's get this straight. I have stage 4 breast cancer. I know what that means. The cancer has spread beyond my breast and it is incurable. I know it can roar back at any time. And I know that the cancer will eventually kill me.

Here's the other thing we need to get straight. I know I'm in for a long haul. I know that the cancer learns the treatments I’m given, and I’ll need to switch treatments again and again. I know that there are many people who become debilitated by this disease and have to stop working and focus entirely on nothing but fighting the cancer. I know all ...

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Catching Cancer
June 27, 2015
Oh, RA, I am so sorry for what you have gone through. Hoping things get better for you soon. Know how you feel about work. There's a great organization called Cancer & Careers with really helpful resources on working. http://www.cancerandcareers.org Keep up with advocating for yourself. Thinking of you

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Different Cancers, Different Journeys: One Problem With Lack of Public's Education
June 27, 2015
It's more appropriate to say someone has Stage IV or metastatic cancer, rather than end of life. No one is truly end of life until they are dead. Sadly breast cancer can go Stage IV at any point, even years later. So really, breast cancer is never truly cured. Still, even with Stage IV breast cancer myself, only way to deal with it is to go about the business of living. The biggest education need to be the lack of funds for medical research. We need to kill our country's second-greatest killer, cancer. Too many lives are at stake.

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It's OK to Cry
June 18, 2015
Peg, It is a scary thing. I'm finding I have to do a Zen-like day by day approach to this whole thing. I literally tell myself I can't stop what happens next so might as well enjoy what I'm doing right now. Easier said than done. Certainly good counseling and guided meditation has helped with this. And being in AA is a big plus in that spirituality thing for me, a huge help. Take care of yourself.

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It's OK to Cry
June 09, 2015
Most days I'm OK. I've gotten used to living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer — the ups and downs, the roller coaster ride. I've become accustomed to living while also thinking ahead to my eventual death. Will I outlive my pit bull, Butch, who is 12 years old and failing, a dog I've worked to protect from the kind of people who do bad things to pit bulls? Will my house and belongings be easily sold, easing my nephews' burden while they are also grieving my death? These are the thoughts that sit in the back of my mind. And while holding these thoughts at bay, I continue to book business ...

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Job's Friends
May 22, 2015
I've always disliked the Book of Job in the Bible. The idea of God laying a bet with Satan to test the strength of Job's faith by hurting him and taking away everything that he loves and cares about is a disturbing idea, to say the least. 
 
But there is one important message I heard in reading the story, and that is the reaction of Job's friends. Job's life is being whittled away bit by bit — he has lost his crops, his livestock and his family. He is truly aggrieved. Job's friends live a distance from him, but they come together and decide to visit Job in order to help him mourn. For ...

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Catching Cancer
May 16, 2015
When I came out with my diagnosis of breast cancer, I received an incredible number of supportive comments and some interesting ones.

The most interesting question: How did I get cancer?

My answer: "I don't know. My boobs never smoked." I then added, "Maybe they hung out with bad company."

I did wonder though, if there was something I did. Was it my heavy drinking (thank you Alcoholics Anonymous for helping with that)? Was it the fact that I'm overweight (I prefer to say pleasantly plump)? Was it the fact that I've never had children?

Bingo. That's part of it. I found great answers from a book called Breast Cancer: Real Questions, Real Answers by David Chan, MD, from ...

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If, Not When
May 11, 2015
Carrol: I referred to my previous oncologist as The Engineer. She was very good but very focused on the medicine. She was basically good with bedside manner, but spoke in her typical medical terms, hence the word "when." I don't think the medical folks always realize what an impact words have. Good for you for passing the message on.

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If, Not When
May 08, 2015
Terri: I know how you feel. I have to live in hope to keep on keeping on. I have 3 dogs myself and I have caretakers named in my Will for each of the dogs (I call them the dogs' godparents). But still, when I had a flare up of the cancer in November 2014, I started thinking that I wasn't going to live long and couldn't even adopt a dog. That weekend I went out and adopted a dog. Her name is Scarlet. She is a Chihuahua and she is the third dog. :-)

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If, Not When
May 07, 2015
Wintersnow, I know what you mean. I try to stay neutral too when going to the doctor. Plus, I'm constantly looking at Clinicaltrials.gov to find trials I can sign on to. Maybe I can move from clinical trial to clinical trial to save my life. Good luck with your results. I'll be knocking on wood, praying, or whatever else you need.

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If, Not When
May 07, 2015
Jbarbatti, I totally agree with you. Nobody, not even a doctor, should take away our hope. I have a t-shirt that says "I am not a statistic." I have to keep reminding myself of that.

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If, Not When
May 07, 2015
Donna, I agree. Live it one day a time and leave the world a better place. Leigh, spirituality always helps, and I am certainly a spiritual gal. I joke that living with metastatic breast cancer requires a black belt in spirituality. It's all about doing the footwork, and feeling that it's going to be okay no matter what. Lots of gods out there, and I respect all of them (Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, etc). :-)

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If, Not When
May 01, 2015
I'm going to knock on wood before I post this (really). That's what I do. I knock on wood. I comment that I don't believe in God, but I do believe in knocking on wood. By that, I mean that I do not believe God does stuff to us, gives us cancer or takes it away. I wasn't given this. I got this. But for some reason, knocking on wood just makes me feel better.

I do want to talk about the concept of 'if, not when.' So I'm going to knock on some wood before I type this to keep the evil eye of cancer away. Wouldn't it suck for me to say that I'm doing well, and then the cancer came back?  ...

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On Article What'd You Call Me!
April 28, 2015
It's all about keeping on the best we can. I'll be knocking on wood for you and would sure appreciate if you could knock on some wood for me. :-)

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Celebrating a Decade of Friendship Because of Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer
April 28, 2015
Congrats on 10 years. I have metastatic breast cancer to the liver, and am certainly keeping my eye on SIRT. So happy it's keeping you going.

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Letting Go of Certainty
April 24, 2015
And when you move to Stage IV cancer, as 30% of breast cancer survivors will, you earn a black belt in living with uncertainty. I live 6 months at a time and do my best to block out what may happen between scans. It sucks, but it is reality. It's really living in the "now" at an extreme. The hope is that the "now" is pleasant.

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The Cancer-Life Balance: Or To Wear Cute Shoes Or Not Wear Cute Shoes
April 09, 2015
Yeah, it is a constant debate. But cookies make it all better. :-)

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The Cancer-Life Balance: Or To Wear Cute Shoes Or Not Wear Cute Shoes
April 02, 2015
It has been established that I love shoes, especially cute shoes. So it was cute shoes that were my down fall today.  

This morning, I put on my fashionable shoes, and walked sassily towards work. And when I say sassily, I mean I was working it, headphones on, fun socks showing, open sweater blowing in the wind ...

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Not My Time to Say Goodbye
March 26, 2015
Tracey, as the folks who support me tell me, someone else's story is not my story. Still, it's so hard to see folks dying. Sucks.

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Not My Time to Say Goodbye
March 26, 2015
Laura. Look on www.clinicaltrials.gov and search for metastatic breast cancer. You look at a map or location listing of the clinical trials you find. I pushed my doctor for months on the mastectomy. Once I was stable, she signed off. It was a matter of my mental health and that is very important.

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Not My Time to Say Goodbye
March 26, 2015
Tori. May we both live for years and years. :-)

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