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bare

I, like too many others, have kept quiet about my metastatic diagnosis for a long time. I was scared of the repercussions it might have on my career, attempts to build a family, and of things that I can’t even put my finger on. Privately I would write about my experiences, and then eventually I shared a short story online about shaving my head before my very first chemo. Filmmaker Kerith Lemon proposed turning it into a short film, bare. Sharing my story publicly has been so freeing and empowering. It has connected me with other young women going through similar experiences, which is game changing. And, it has taught me that opening up and sharing my pain, fears, and anxieties helps me get through it all.

That’s a major reason why we felt compelled to make this film. We wanted to try to help others feel less alone in what they are going through and help them feel connected and empowered, as well as educate young people about their breast cancer risk and bring some light to MBC—which is in desperate need of more awareness, understanding, and funding. Many young men and women who have concerns about their breasts are dismissed by medical professionals due to their age. If they were taken seriously from the beginning, they would have more of an opportunity to catch the cancer at an earlier stage. Our hope is that bare reminds everyone that young people can and do get breast cancer, and that men and women of all ages need to be conducting regular self-exams and bringing any concerns to medical professionals who will take them seriously.

When I was first diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2010, I was just 25 years old. I was a veterinary school student living a healthy lifestyle with no family history of breast cancer, and I had absolutely no preparation for all that I was about to endure. I was terrified of losing my hair, my breasts, and even my life. I felt completely lost. I had no idea that I was about to go through a year of chemotherapy, biotherapy, surgeries, radiation, and hormonal treatments, all the while feeling isolated, scared, and like my sense of identity had been rocked to the core.

In August of 2014 at 29 years old, after about two and a half years of remission, my breast cancer returned and spread to my bones and distant lymph nodes, making me a stage 4 metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patient. I went back into treatment, but unfortunately in November 2016 the breast cancer returned to my brain. I had an emergency craniotomy/brain tumor removal, followed by brain radiation. I am now facing additional neurological issues and potential progression in my bones. We are figuring out the next steps.

Currently, only 3-7% of all the money that we raise for breast cancer research is dedicated to stage 4 metastatic breast cancer (the stage that kills), while an estimated 30% of early stagers will go on to become stage 4 patients at some point. This distribution of funds suggests that the prevailing mentality is that metastatic patients are not worth saving, that we are lost causes. We are worth saving. Despite living with a terminal diagnosis, I have learned how to live a life that I love—a life filled with joy, beauty, and love—and of course, pain and tears as well. But that’s the true, honest human experience. All I want is to be able to keep living this complicated, uncertain, beautiful life.

Please consider donating to METAvivor, which dedicates 100% of your donations toward metastatic breast cancer treatment research. These donations will directly benefit me and so many other patients like me.

The bare team wanted to create this fundraising page because metastatic breast cancer desperately needs more funding for new and better treatments. Otherwise, breast cancer patients will keep dying.

My survival, and that of all those living with metastatic breast cancer, is at the mercy of medical advances moving faster than our disease, and supporting METAvivor is one of the best ways to help expedite the advances that can help me and so many others like me.

Please go to bareshortfilm.com to learn more about the film.

 

 

100% of your donation will be used to fund research with the goal of ending death from metastatic breast cancer.

 

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