Today’s Mets Monday story comes from Mary Gooze. I am sure many of you have probably already know about Mary, as she’s a celebrity of sorts in her fight to bring awareness and raise funds to research a cure for metastatic breast cancer. She swims across lakes. Lots of lakes. So let me not dawdle, and let’s get to Mary’s story….pronto!
Can you share with our readers what your life was like before you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and how you got to the stage IV diagnosis?
Prior to my cancer diagnosis I was running races, doing sprint triathlons and preparing for my first half marathon when the pain in my hip would not go away. Since being initially diagnosed in January of 2012 and undergoing the standard treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I was on my way to leave cancer behind. Until June of 2014 when I received the call that the bone scan showed cancer in the bones.
What is your official diagnosis. Tell us about your current treatment .
I am ER+ PR-, Her- with Mets to the bones. Currently am on Afinitor, Exemenstane and once a month Xgeva injection.
How has cancer changed your life? Did you have one pivotal moment or has the journey been one of progression and growth?
What doesn’t change when you get a terminal diagnosis? After the first few months of wallowing and feeling completely overwhelmed, I picked myself up and decided to swim. I swam 2.3 miles across Lake Washington in Seattle with white caps and huge waves. When I stood up on shore I decided swimming would be my refuge. Later I discovered it was a way to raise money and awareness for MBC.
How do you live your best life now, thriving with a metastatic diagnosis?
Since that day in August, I have swum 19 lakes and have raised almost $40,000 for METAvivor and am not stopping. Finding a focus and a goal to do something about this disease has made me both mentally and physically stronger. Every day is a “best” day and every swim day is better. Knowing that I am making a difference both for awareness and research gives me tremendous hope. I am grateful to those who support me as I swim through the waters and know they are as dedicated to finding a cure as I am.
What makes you most happy, and where do you find the most joy? Is this different than BC (before cancer)?
BC I never would have seen myself jump into a lake, swim across it and LOVE it. I have always been a swimmer but until now did not discover the absolute peacefulness and meditative experience that I now have while I swim.
This is Mary’s swim at Lake Kegonsa, Stoughton, Wisconsin this past June.
People mean well, but often they don’t know what to say, so they say the WRONG thing. What is the worst thing someone has said to you?
“Only positive people beat cancer so stay positive and you will be okay.”
What did or do you find most helpful for those wanting to encourage or help you?
My swims are a big part of my life now and I have a team of supporters who are out there soliciting donations, manning kayaks, swimming with me, leading cheers from the shore and a hundred other ways to support my campaign of raising money. They know this is an important mission for me and have gotten behind me 100%. They also know there are days when I am not feeling well and the notes of encouragement show up at my door.
Do you feel that those of us living with metastatic disease are overlooked by the pink tide of awareness for early stage cancer in October? How would you change that?
Absolutely overlooked and that is where my outrage comes from. I feel that the ball was dropped after the second diagnosis and we are on our own to fend for ourselves. Change must come and it starts with us standing up and demanding more money for research. I am educating people every day about this disease and encouraging them to spread the word. If we all did that, changes will happen.
What do you want people to know about YOU and your life living with this disease?
I retired a few years ago and thought when I turned sixty that I needed a purpose, something to make a difference before I leave this world. Little did I know that cancer would rear its ugly head and point its finger at me saying, “Find a cure. That will be your purpose.” I was thinking more along the lines of saving whales or lost puppies—certainly not cancer. I get up every day, happy to be alive and live large and in charge and that’s what keeps me going.
Do you think our cure is near? Or what one scientific advancement in the treatment of MBC do you find most encouraging.
Yes! Yes! Yes! A cure is there and we need the resources to fund the brilliant scientists to find one. Immunology is the most encouraging treatment I have seen on this pathway towards a cure.
What is one “action” point everyone could do TODAY to promote awareness of MBC?
Share your story with friends and let them know that we are loving life and plan to stay around longer than the statistics tell us. Get others involved in our determination to finding a cure for this disease. Holler, scream and make a scene.
Do you have a favorite poem, song, quote, or work of art that you would like to share with us.
Mary Gooze is a swimmer, an adventure seeker, a mother to three children and a wife. She is the founder of One Woman Many Lakes and am on a campaign to swim lakes, rivers or any other wet surfaces to find a cure for metastatic breast cancer. Visit her webpage at www.onewomanmanylakes.net Or you can connect with her on her Facebook page at One Woman Many Lakes or on twitter: @1womanmanylakes.
Thank you Mary for inspiring all of us to live our best lives by doing things that we love despite our diagnosis of metastatic disease.
If you would like to donate for a cure, please go to http://www.metavivor.org and click on their donate button. They give 100% of all funds to research.
I am looking for a few more stories to take us to the end of November. If you would like to share your metastatic breast cancer story, let me know by filling out the form below. I will get back to you with all of the details. #voicesofMBC will be taking a break in December and coming back in mid January of 2016 with some new features and more great stories. Let our voices be heard.
Until next time,