Who will you remember on Oct. 13?

National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

October 13th in National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

As Elaine Schattner reported in October, 2009, the U.S. Senate and House voted to support the designation of October 13 as a National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The point of those proclamations was to draw attention to the needs of the metastatic breast cancer community.

“We want people to know we exist, that we’re still alive,” says Ellen Moskowitz, president of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. The day is not about general cancer awareness; it’s about acknowledging the distinct needs of people who have the advanced, incurable form of breast cancer.

Hats off to Shirley Mertz and the late Susan Davis, two tireless advocates who led the lobbying effort for the Oct. 13 designation.

Many people don’t grasp that metastatic breast cancer is not a rare “kind” of breast cancer. When someone dies of breast cancer, that’s metastatic breast cancer. It might have been triple negative breast cancer, triple positive breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, hormone receptive breast cancer (ER/PR+) or some variation. In all cases, regardless of pathology, if the person had metastatic breast cancer, it means the cancer spread outside the breast to the bones, liver, lungs or brain.

Metastatic breast cancer claims 45,000 lives annually in the U.S. As one of 155,000 U.S. people living with MBC, I have a vested interest in educating people about this incurable disease and urging them to support research that helps people with advanced breast cancer live longer.

As we approach Oct. 13, I will be sharing stories of people who died from MBC. I invite you to do the same.

My mom died from inflammatory breast cancer in 1983.

My mom, Elaine Isaac O’Brien, died of inflammatory breast cancer in 1983. I remember her beautiful smile, her quiet faith, her effortless creativity–not to mention her ability to do math in her head. I remember her rare moments of repose, the waves of contentment washing over her as she drank tea and ate buttered rye toast and read the paper after the morning rush to school.

National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember Jennifer Lynne Strutzel Berg (1971 – 2009), the daughter of my high school principal. Jen, age 37, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer when she was pregnant with her second child in late April of 2007.


National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember Maria Madden, wife of Wayne, my boss at Penton. Maria, age 37, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease as a college student in 1994.

Radiation for the HD resulted in Stage 1 breast cancer found in 2007. In 2009, she was dx’d with lung mets.

National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember Mary Dinschel Dungan, my Carmel High classmate. Mary was diagnosed in Feb ’07. She had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. Her cancer returned in Oct. 2010.


National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember my brother-in-law’s sister, Mary. Mary and her family visited IL several times from Ireland. I remember Mary helping her kids play a Noddy computer game and on a later visit, looking forward to taking them shopping.
Mary, a nurse, originally attributed her back pain to over exertion on the job.

National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember my friend Samantha Pritchett. Sam, 40, was triple negative & had the BRCA1 mutation.
“I LOVE being a Mom,” she wrote. “I am a big basketball fan & am thrilled both boys play.”

National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This Ocotber, I wll remember RivkA Matitya, an NY native who immigrated to Israel 21 years ago. She was diagnosed with DCIS in 2005. Two years later her cancer metastasized. From New York to Jerusalem and all points in between RivkA With a Capital “A” touched people. She always signed her posts “with love and optimism.”
A thousand people attended her funeral.

National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember columnist and pundit Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

“Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun,” she wrote. “First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that.”


National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October, I will remember Olga Simkin (forever 34), mother of 2 boys (9 and 6).
National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

This October I will remember playwright and actress Oni Faida Lampley (1959-2008).

“Perhaps the hardest part was my fear that those who loved me would be disappointed if I ceased to be the do-it-all survivor…Over time, I let that go, too. I prayed, slept, cried and (don’t tell anybody) felt sorry for myself, and—lo and behold, the roof didn’t fall in!”


National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?


This October, I will remember NC State basketball coach Kay Yow (1942-2009).

Yow had surgery for breast cancer in the summer of 1987, but the cancer returned in November 2004. In 2006 after being dx’d with liver mets she took a 16-game leave of absence, but returned to take the Wolfpack to the Round of 16 of the 2007 N.C.A.A. tournament.


National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct. 13. Who will you remember?

19 thoughts on “Who will you remember on Oct. 13?

  1. […] AdvancedBC.org Advanced Breast Cancer Support Community BCMets.org BrainMetsBC.org Metastatic Breast Cancer Network Metavivor Research & Support Who Will You Remember on October 13th? […]

  2. Ethel says:

    Please remember those of us who are “living” with metastatic breast cancer. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. In 2009 it metastacized to my bones and lungs. I am on my third treatment option — xeloda — which may be failing. So, we will go on to another treatment — and then another. We need the support and research which will give us other options. I have no pain and am living my life as I always have. How long will this last? That depends on new treatments for MBC.

  3. nancyspoint says:

    I will be remembering my mom. I will be remembering others lost. I will be remembering my friends, like you, who are presently living with this reality that has nothing to do with pink ribbons.

  4. I will be remembering and thinking about all of us who may find ourselves with mets in the future. Like all of us, I will be praying there is that one defining breakthrough that allows researchers to unravel the key to preventing metastasis.

  5. Deb says:

    On October 13th, I will remember my good friend, Susan O’Brien. We were both diagnosed with stage 1 in 1990. She moved on to stage 4 in 1998 and passed away in 2006, In 2009, I was diagnosed with stage 4. I will also remember my cousin, Mary who passed away about 20 years ago. She was in her 30s. I am being honored on that day for being an advocate for my metsisters and brothers with stage 4, but my heroes are those who went before us, Susan and Mary – I love you and miss you. God Bless and rest in peace.

  6. Yan Simkin says:

    Thank you for remembering Olga. May you live a long and happy life against all odds of this stupid disease.

  7. Praelior says:

    I will remember Kathy, my teaching partner and mentor, who–long before I ever knew it would matter–taught me how to live with breast cancer. Diagnosed in her early thirties with a recurrence twenty years later, she died with dignity, truth and a dash of humor in 2006. Since my diagnosis at age thirty-two, I’ve thought of her often.

  8. Barbara Jo says:

    I will remember Jessica Marie Holm. Jessica passed August 15th 2011. She was not a personel friend of mine; but a hero to me. Jessica was diagnosed stage 4 when she was pregnant with Aidah who recently turned three. She was a young mother of three other children; Eli 9, Owen 7, and Ben 5. Her children were everything to her. Her loving husband is Dave. I never met her but learned about her from my sister-in-law who is a family friend.
    Jess fought the hard fight. She cooked and cleaned and played all with a smile and never a complaint. (We know how hard that can be while going through that wretched chemo). You see, I was diagnosed stage III in 2009. My kids are grown. If I was having a bad day I would think of Jess with her four little ones and lift her up…it lifted me up. Her strength inspired me.

  9. maureen b says:

    I will remember Addie. We met on an early mbc support site but moved to more personal discussions on email, phone and were able to meet once. She lived in the middle of the country; I live in the Northeast.

  10. Elaine says:

    I am remembering my mom’s closest friend Lynn, who died during my breast cancer treatment, and who’s daughter now lives with metastatic BC. Lynn gave me a special gift – fancy underwear – when I was in the hospital as a child, and her daughter gave me special undershirts to wear, years later, after my mastectomies.

  11. Carole says:

    Today I’ve thought of my friend Rose – a beautiful lady, inside and out, who wanted only to survive as long as possible to continue being a part of her lovely grandchildren’s lives. Rose passed away in June this year and I miss her every day….
    Despite being so unwell herself, Rose continued to encourage others, support, advise wherever she could – she was always one of the first to offer the hand of friendship to those newly diagnosed… I miss her so much.

    I don’t think we have a special day for Metastatic Breast Cancer awareness here in the UK…if we do, I’ve heard nothing about it whatsoever.

  12. Kyra says:

    I will remember Jennifer Lynne Berg, sister of my Dad who passed of Stage 4 Breast Cancer on October 27, 2099. She was truly sent by God to make the world a better place and so she did. Her three children and husband will forever keep her in their hearts and no one can take that away.

  13. Marilyn says:

    I will be remembering the women who were in the two “Living with Metastatic Cancer” support groups I’ve facilitated – one which began in January 2007 for women with breast cancer :
    Mary Jo
    Sue E
    Sue C

    …and the other for anyone diagnosed with metastatic cancer:

    as well as my Aunt Dot.

    My hopes are that there will be no one added to this list before then, and my prayers are that this will be a result of a cure for metastatic cancer.

  14. I willl remember Carole Weeks, a kind and generous spirit, who I met last fall at my first ever writing workshop. The course was for breast cancer survivors and I was scared and intimidated to share my writing. Carole welcomed me to the class with open arms and helped make the class a safe space to express myself. She encouraged me to start my own blog and to continue to write, write, and write some more about the breast cancer journey.
    She died a couple of weeks ago and she will be missed.

  15. […] WHO WILL YOU REMEMBER ON OCT.13? […]

  16. I have lost so many close friends to this disease as I continue to fight it myself. I will be mourning the loss of my great friends Peter and Mary and I hole them in my heart as I do all that I can to raise funds and awareness for metastatic breast cancer research. http://www.insertboobshere.com/project-metastatic-breast-cancer/

  17. kathe says:

    I remembered my friend and neighbor, Lois Jackson. She was a wonderful spirit who had first gotten breast cancer when her youngest son Jonn was a baby, and I guess her treatments worked then. Then about six years ago,the cancer came back and it was everywhere. I feel bad because I really didn’t know what she was going through, well, when she got up, she put herself together very well every day. We did talk a lot about what it was like physically, but I never got a glimpse of what it must have done to her psyche and spirit. She was a very striking looking african american woman with the biggest heart and the sharpest mind than all the other women I know put together, and I know some good ones! She was a retired R.N., and her husband is an emergency room doctor, and between them, they could guide and answer any of your health concerns. Lois loved christmas, and opened up her house to all the adult orphans she knew for miles around. She could speak rapid fire spanish, amazing to hear. She passed two years ago when i was in the middle of doing radiation for stage lllc breast cancer.. and I miss her.. It rained that day, like the sky itself was mourning. At her service, you never saw so many sad people, and it was a thing of great beauty. I miss her miss her miss her my mother my sister

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