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Talking about death doesn’t mean we are giving up or being negative...

A guest post by Shellie Kendrick...

A lot of us in MBC Land (metastatic breast cancer) hear “Any one of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow!” when we bring up death. (And as much as I don’t want to, I really really do not like to, I have to at times. I do.)

And talking about death doesn’t mean we are giving up or being negative. It just means we are trying to face it in any degree we can. Over the past 10 years I’ve heard the bus analogy from time to time. Friends have said it. Family have said it. My own husband used to say it all the time until I told him how uncomforting and dismissive it is to hear. But I know it’s very well meaning. And so I nod and agree. It’s very true. Technically in life any one of us could be hit by a bus, or die of an undiagnosed health condition, or some other accident or harm that can suddenly happen to us or our loved ones and be gone in instant.

Yes, anyone of us can be “hit by a bus tomorrow” I know this is so true because I’ve seen it in my life, with my family, my friends and it’s completely heartbreaking, unfair and devastating. I know you’ve seen it in your own. I’m so sorry.

I‘ve always thought and believe my heartache doesn’t trump any other person’s heartache. I don’t have it worse. I have it different. Just like you reading this… you have things in your heart that hurt, that make you worry, make you sad. Not one of us has the upper hand on tragedy when we keep perspective in our sight. When we have perspective and empathy we understand that we are all sitting at the same table. We’ve all just been dealt with different hands.

But I would like to voice how it feels as someone with a terminal illness... what it feels like to bring up the vulnerable topic like… your upcoming, foreseeable death and hear in return “anyone of us can be hit by a bus.” So when I read this today in a yahoo article I was like YES this is how it feels!

'You’re going to fight! You’re going to win!’ and I have to say ‘No, there is no cure.’ It’s treatable, but … it’s like I’m walking down the sidewalk in high heels and I’m going over the heat grate and I get caught and I see the bus coming. That’s what living with MBC is like. For 10 years my heel has been stuck in the grate. And being stuck is the most terrifying feeling in the world. I can’t move on. No matter how hard I try. And how I try!! How I smile, and pray, and get my chakras worked on, and dream and wish and pray some more. No matter how hard I try, no matter the amount of optimism I pull from deep within my gut, no matter how many new treatments that are in the pipeline, no matter how much I plead with the Lord to help me, I do not have the ability to unstick my shoe. And that means I know that the bus is coming, and that it will hurt. And it will hurt Chad and my kids and my family and my friends.

The reality of earthly existence is that certain diseases are just not curable. My cancer is not curable. I will die just like many of my loved ones and your loved ones have died from it. I’ve lost 3 very important friends within this last year from MBC. Women whom I’ve hugged, laughed, gone to lunch with, the movies with, cried with, sat with at church, talked about our cancers with. And the most important... women who I have LOVED! Brita, Jamie & Brittany.

I know this is an uncomfortable post. I know it’s sad when we think about death. But I also think writing and reading this type of post is important. So what can we say when we hear people talk about terminal illness in their life or of someone they know? “I’m here for you. I’m not going anywhere.” “I love you.” “Thank you for sharing with me. I know it takes a lot of trust with someone to talk about things like this.”

Does saying these types of things really help? Yes! From someone who can see their inevitable end a mile (hopefully 50 miles) away… yes it helps so much more than… “Anyone of us can be hit by a bus tomorrow.”

And how I would love to end it there. I’d also like to leave an extra p.s. because I’ve heard it a lot in the recent months since I’ve been feeling better. When a cancer patient hasn’t been doing particularly well and then has an upswing… let’s not say... “I thought you were a goner.” “We talked about that you were dying.” “I was worried this was the end for you.” “I wasn’t sure you’d make it.” I’ve been told these exact things. And peeps I get it… because those are real thoughts we have. I know they are thoughts I was having… I did think even up until May that I would probably not see into 2023. So I 100% completely understand these are valid thoughts. But they are still very hurtful to hear. Especially when it comes from those around you that you know have ability to keep walking across the street, avoid any buses, and keep having all the adventures of life.

I love you all. Thank you for always being here for me to let me try in anyway to make sense of all of this. It’s the only way I can face it. If you ever think I’m brave just know I think the same of you… because I know it’s probably not that easy to stay day after day, year after year, with someone who can’t move on.

Xoxo, shell Care Comment Share

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