Welcome. These are the stories of 10 women, all of whom are living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) — who took part in our fearLESS retreat and found strength in community. While MBC is one of the deadliest cancers in women, each of these women shared how they live each day fearlessly in the face of their diagnosis. The richness of their lives and diversity of their stories offer insight and resources we hope may help you in your own journey.
"fearLESS means living with my truth, helping others to see my truth, and never giving up when I want to give up."


Shaming Happens

There are more of us dealing with this disease than people know. We don't talk about it, but I feel there tends to be cancer shaming. "What did you eat?" or "did you exercise enough?" - questions about your diet and lifestyle. I think to myself, “no, it's my genetics.” My mom had it, and I tried to be proactive about my health, but it still happened.

Being Single With MBC

Living with MBC as a single person is difficult, and I don't know how to present that to someone. We need to pay more attention to the difficulties of dating after diagnosis with breast cancer. You can go through many body-image issues after reconstructive surgery or have difficulty telling someone you're interested in that you live with a chronic disease. For me, it's been very difficult and very lonely.

Still Here and Still Fighting

My resilience keeps me going. I've never backed down from a fight. There are more women here just like me - still pushing forward, living, and loving. I'm grateful for that. We've all been here, and we're going to fight to live and be acknowledged. I'm new to MBC, and when I see someone who has lived seven years, six years, five years, it makes me feel really good. We're here and fighting - that's why I need to share my story. I want to bring more awareness and raise more funds for research because this disease has been here for a long time.

"fearLESS to me is finding the joy in the darkness. Being that shining light and showing others in our situation that it is scary and it's a dark world, but we can make it brighter."


A Year That Changed My Life

When I found a lump, I was changing careers and had no insurance. Within that year, my whole life changed. I couldn't get out of bed, and I broke eight ribs just by moving furniture. I was that sick before I ever saw a doctor - I had to use the internet to find my own help. I found an institute with a program for women without insurance. Praise God because it saved my life. They told me not to worry about a thing.

An Understanding Community

There aren't words to describe what it feels like to be in this house with other women like me. I feel like I'm with family. We thrive off each other, and being around people who understand is so refreshing. I've educated a couple of people who've just started chemotherapy, and they've educated me back. I have sisters, and we'll be connected forever. Being at this retreat is one of the best feelings ever. It's overwhelming - but a tremendous, overwhelming feeling.

You Are Worth It

I wanted to share my story because I remember feeling hopeless, like I had nobody. I would hate to see another single parent - man or woman - feel like that. Everyone is worth it. Life is important. I was lost, but I became educated through all my experiences, and I want to educate others. I would hate for anyone in this situation to not know the right or wrong questions to ask. If I hadn't learned from advocacy groups and done my research, I wouldn't have pushed for the care I needed, and I wouldn't be here today - I know that for a fact.

"fearLESS means stepping out of my comfort zone and doing more of the things I don't think I can do because of fear. It's living life to the full extent and making every second count."


A Unique Understanding

I've met other metastatic breast cancer patients through Facebook groups and organizations like METAvivor . I think you have to meet people at the right time. The doctors answered my questions, but I realized that there are some things that only other patients understand. You can only get that surrounded by patients living the same things you're living. I can celebrate good scans with them and ask questions about their symptoms. It's a great community to have.

Going, Going, Going

I need to share my MBC story as a Hispanic woman. We're caretakers, and we're often taught to keep going, keep going, keep going. Sometimes we wait until it's too late to take care of ourselves. People should know that if something doesn't feel right with your body, you need to seek care right away. We need to take care of ourselves first. It may be nothing - but it may be something. Advocate for yourself, seek the care you need, and take the time you need.

Listen and Learn

While there are different treatments for MBC, people do not know that some may not work well for me, or side effects may be so severe that I choose to stop them. Too many people do not understand these hard realities. When they hear the words breast cancer, they think there's always a treatment or a surgical option. It desperately needs more research and more treatment options. I want the world to know we deserve a lot more attention. Look past my external appearance. Even though I look healthy, that doesn't mean I'm not sick. Not paying attention isn’t fair to those who receive an MBC diagnosis. We need people to pay attention––to listen and be willing to learn. You have to listen, learn, and redirect resources and dollars to MBC research.

"fearLESS means to me waking up knowing I have metastatic breast cancer but metastatic breast cancer does not have me."
"I can address my cancer, and I can approach it to say may we live together in this body in peace for the benefit of us both. That’s what being fearLESS means to me."
"fearLESS means just being able to be myself… and being powerful in a way that I can share my story with others."
"Fear and less. I see it as two words. In the beginning I was very fearful, and as the years go on, I fear less. I know I sense my mortality, but I’m not fearful of that; what I’m fearful of is not living my life to the fullest. I want to fear less and do more."
"Just seeing the other women [at this retreat] has made me face a lot of my fears - to not be so fearful of the unknown but live in the now. Because I mean you’re always going to be fearful. You’ve just got to keep going with it"
"I choose not to live in fear, because life’s too short. When you’re in fear, you’re stuck, right? I’m all about moving forward and enjoying it."
"Having MBC, you shouldn’t be afraid all the time. You still have to live while you’re here now. So, like I say, you want to be joyful and take each day as a blessing and live it to your fullest"
Experience the stories of many more patients living with the pressures of MBC. This video, which was featured at SABCS 2019, highlights their perseverance and urgency for more research.