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Hidden Underneath the Outside Beauty: Metastatic Breast Cancer series

Felicia Johnson offers personal insights on what Metastatic Breast Cancer really “looks like.”

I believe that we are extremely visual by nature. We have a tendency to make conclusions about people by the way they look. We surmise that a person is healthy by his or her outward appearance barring any physical challenges.  I don’t remember when I learned that about humans. But I surely will always remember when I felt its lesson make a direct impact on me personally.

I was on my way to my routine chemo treatment. I dressed in my favorite blue skirt with the matching top. I wanted to feel good about myself that day because I was struggling. I was walking towards the hospital and saw one of my former co-workers. I was so excited to see her. She asked me why she hadn’t seen me, “What was the big secret?”. 

I explained to her that I live with Metastatic Breast Cancer.  She looked at my hair and how I was dressed. With unbelieving eyes she simply stated, “But Felicia, you certainly don’t look sick at all.”  Although I knew she did not mean any harm, the pain I felt was unbelievable. I yearned for someone to look past my physical appearance and understand the devastation happening on the inside.  For hundreds-of-thousands of us who live with Metastatic Breast Cancer, under that illusion of picture-perfect health is a deadly disease. If you are wondering what that looks like, here is a glimpse.

There is no cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer.  And, there is no “user’s manual” that comes with the diagnosis. Learning how to live with the disease requires on-the-job training. Living means you may require some form of chemotherapy treatment for the rest of your natural life. This is based on individual assessments by your doctor.  Those treatments may include, but are not limited to hormonal therapy, oral chemotherapy pills, and intravenous treatment.

 It also means too often an unfair visual assessment of what is really happening. People may not realize and understand what you are facing. You are sick. You are dealing with disease-related fears and concerns. You may not be able to work; health coverage issues may arise. In addition, there are psychosocial, family and financial issues. There are so many challenges on a day by day basis to cope with.

In spite of what I have been through, I consider myself to be a miracle.

I am a third-generation Mestastic Breast Cancer Fighter myself.  I was diagnosed with Mestastic Breast Cancer and also Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Inspite of what I have been through, I consider myself to be a miracle.  I refuse to live in the fear of cancer. I will speak for the voices inside the graves of my family and for others. Today, I know that education and increased public awareness is the key to transforming our communities. It is vital to provide the necessary tools for understanding the long-term effects of Mestastic Breast Cancer.

Knowing this, I am excited about the upcoming Metastatic Breast Cancer Symposium being hosted by Susan G. Komen Philadelphia. Education is paramount to the lives of those affected.  If you are interested in learning more about the needs of Mestastic Breast Cancer  community or have been diagnosed yourself, please meet with me and others on September 17, 2016, 9AM – 2PM at the Lowes Hotel, downtown Philadelphia.   

Let’s unmask this horrible disease and fight the battle together.  Don’t let the illusion of health stop you. The appearance of health is more than skin deep.  Remember, hidden underneath that outside beauty maybe a women or man diagnosed with Mestastic Breast Cancer.   

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