Molly’s Army

October 28, 2013
By Molly Fuglestad
I attended the MBCN’s conference last month and took to heart your message, “use your voice and story for change in metastatic cancer.” Below is my Caring Bridge blog post, in which I shared an extraordinary story of four young individuals that used their leadership skills to make a difference.  I call my supporters, “Molly’s Army.”

October 13th was National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  It is a day that has been organized to educate others beyond the powers of Pinktober.  Currently 155,000 people live with metastatic breast cancer.  Of that number, 40,000 die each year from the wrath of this disease; a statistic that has not changed significantly in the past twenty years.  Did you know that only 2-5% of research money is used towards funding metastatic breast cancer research, yet 95% of deaths occur among those who have advanced or metastatic disease? (www.mbcn.org

The facts are startling, but I want to share a story that is equally as startling; one that will warm your heart and make you a believer of the new generation set to take over our world. 

Allow me tphoto (15)o introduce you to four children, Parker and Reese Fetherston and Sophie and Ethan Tubbin.   These children are examples of how every parent hopes their child will turn out:  kind, caring, athletic, generous, and leaders.  They approached me a couple months ago, wanting to have a fundraiser for breast cancer.  Excitedly they described the carnival, food, and silent auction that would be in store for the entire neighborhood.  I thought to myself, “Wow, that is quite an undertaking,” but quickly found a date for this event to occur.  Unbeknownst to me, it happened to be Metastatic Breast Cancer AwarenessDay. 

It was a picture-perfect day.  The kind you imagine in your wildest dreams:  sun, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the 60’s.  The Fetherston and Tubbin’s back yards conveniently butt up to each other and were decorated with balloons, posters that read:  “Molly’s Army:  we got your back,” a table of silent auction items, seating areas for adults and children and numerous carnival activities for the kids. 

DSC_0017Tickets cost 25 cents and each activity required one to two tickets.  Make-n-take frame decorating, basketball toss, cookie decorating, ball toss, bean bag toss, trampoline jumping were just some of the games.  Dinner, home-grown vegetables, and pink candles could additionally be purchased.  My kids and niece were thrilled with their bags of prizes won from various carnival activities.  

To look around and see over sixty neighborhood friends coming together for one cause was overwhelming, but to think two elementary and two middle school kids organized this evcarnival crowdent with significant thought and attention to detail is to be commended.  The four worked together tediously creating and re-creating list after list of elements to make this neighborhood event a success.  I could not be more proud of four children than I am now.  Let’s not forget about the examples of generosity that have been led and reinforced by their parents, Greg and Heather and Matt and Maria for supporting their children’s ideas and then assisting them into reality. My Army is an example of four children that are going to make things happen in their life and others.  They exemplified leadership at its finest by helping to support a common cause with creativity and remarkable dedication. 

carnival silent auctionI am delighted to write that their event raised over $400 thanks to some extraordinary children and a neighborhood of support.  The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network will be receiving this money.  This organization provides education for metastatic breast cancer to patients and loved ones and advocates for improved outcomes in the clinical setting.  I can’t think of a more deserving organization that is focused on finding treatments to extend lives until a cure is found.

It takes leaders and voices to be heard for change to occur.  March forward, Army, with your influence and loud voice.  Left, left, left right left….    

Thanks, MBCN for educating me so I could educate others with my voice and actions.

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Lessons from a breast cancer widower

October 10, 2013

By David Imondi

I dread October. I change the TV channel when all the pink ribbon commercials come on. I understand why my wife hated pink ribbons. There was nothing pretty or delicate about the disease that ravaged and killed her at age 47. My wife was Dr. Suzanne Hebert Imondi. She was your vice president. She was my true love.

Yesuzannears ago, Suzanne asked me to share my experience as a “cancer husband” to help MBCN members. I never did. Now, I write this as a heartbroken widower who is trying to raise two young kids without their beloved mom.

I thought I was a good Cancer Husband. I spent countless hours in waiting rooms in cancer centers from Boston to Houston. I slept sitting up for weeks in uncomfortable hospital visitor chairs by Suzanne’s bedside. I kept a large binder with me with copies of PET scans, path reports and lab values. I used a label maker to make sub-divisions and taped physicians cards to the inside cover. In retrospect, I think I was trying to control a disease that could not be controlled.

If I could offer some meager advice to all of those battling metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones, it would be to try to hold on to those moments of happiness when they come. Suzanne and I lived from scan to scan. We would go over the PET scan results and anxiously highlight the areas that were too many times described as “lesions that could represent further metastasis.” Don’t wait for “clean scans.” They may never come. Go to Disney or rent a villa in Italy before the next scan. Lean hard into joy. Sometimes we forget to live while we’re trying not to die.

Please write lots of notes and record videos for your loved ones. Suzanne did not like the finality that those things implied. But now I see how our brave, beautiful kids cherish every note she ever wrote to them. It helps keep them constantly connected to her.

Lastly (and most difficult for me to discuss) remember to say everything you need to say to the people you love. Even though Suzanne lived over 7 years from her initial metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, I thought we had more time. The end happened more quickly than I expected. I thought I had had more time to remind her that even with no hair and draped in hospital green, she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I thought I had more time to tell her how she was the best thing to ever happen to me. I thought I had more time to just hold her and tell her how much I loved her.

I am sorry I don’t have more to offer all of you brave women fighting this disease. Please do know that your courage inspires many. Know that your Cancer Husbands, like me, would give their lives to lift your pain even for a minute. Most of all, know that you will never, ever be forgotten…..

Editor’s note: Thank you, David for this beautiful and heartfelt letter. If you are reading this and are also a single father due to cancer, you may be interested in this website: http://singlefathersduetocancer.org/home.do