"Life is something to be celebrated fully and deeply, and that love is to be given without restraint. So hold your (loved ones) close, not because you don't know how long you'll have them, but because it's how we should live."
The Miles4METAvivor Virtual Race is a fundraiser benefiting METAvivor.org. It began three years ago, inspired by and in honor of my Mom, Connie Cadwell. Each year it grows bigger and bigger, because of the love, generosity, and advocacy of its participants. This community of incredible human beings understands that breast cancer awareness isn't a pink ribbon sticker on the bananas in the grocery store. This community understands the funding disparity and isn't okay with only 6% of funding being allocated to metastatic breast cancer research.
Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, de novo (no previous history of breast cancer), on her 65th birthday in 2013. She and my Dad had been out exploring Yellowstone National Park after spending time with their first grandson, who was only 8 weeks old. Having had a clean mammogram three months prior, the diagnosis came as a complete shock. She always said family, especially the grandboys, gave her the strength and desire to endure the chemotherapies and other treatments; to fight for a new sense of normalcy amidst a devastating diagnosis. After 3 rounds of chemotherapy and targeted therapy, her PET scan revealed NED - no evidence of disease!
She continued with her initial medications for approximately 2.5 years, until scans revealed the drugs weren't working and genetic testing indicated further cell mutation. Mom never stopped. Even when she was physically weak, she always found strength and courage in her heart. After 2.5 years on her first treatment, she tried at least 4 additional lines of treatment. She had salvage chemotherapy the week before she passed away! That's my Mom - fierce, courageously strong even during scary times, determined, maybe a little stubborn :), and so full of love.
Mom died because of Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) on March 11th 2017.
She and my Dad celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary two weeks prior. She was 68 years young.
The median survival after being diagnosed with MBC is 33-36 months. Mom lived 45 months. In her 45 months with MBC Mom continued to see her first grandson grow, welcomed a second grandson, and did all the things a smitten Nana does with her grandchildren. My Mom and Dad have traveled to Yellowstone National Park for many years. It is their paradise and they love watching and photographing wildlife. Mom and Dad got to take two more trips out to Yellowstone. Two more summers with their great friends - human friends, bear friends, bison friends, wolf friends... :) Life was celebrated, even when times were hard. Mom squeezed a lot of goodness out of those 45 months.
I've run a lot of races, from 5Ks to half-marathons, and the running community's tenacity and passion for philanthropy is beautiful to witness. The other community I am proud to be part of, as an allied loved one, is the metastatic breast cancer community. The Miles4METAvivor Virtual Race will bring together the stage IV breast cancer community and the running community, while sharing the truth about Metastatic Breast Cancer and fundraising to support METAvivor. 100% of the race registration fee, as well as fundraising donations, goes directly to METAvivor; an organization who uses 100% of donations to fund stage IV breast cancer research. Research is vital in making MBC a controllable chronic illness instead of a terminal illness.