Homestretch

In two weeks, I will celebrate my 50th birthday.

I was 41 years old, close to 42, when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I grieved many losses. I still grieve because loss is ongoing. The odds weren’t in my favor I’d see my 50th birthday. I am going to see it.

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I’m looking older but hopefully wiser.

After I celebrated my 49th birthday, I turned my attention to a seed of an idea I took from a fellow survivor. Alicia Neubauer raised over $40,000 for metastatic breast cancer research for UW Carbone to celebrate her 40th birthday. What an impressive accomplishment! Could I do the same and raise $50,000 for my 50th birthday? I sure could try.

I met Alicia two years ago at a banquet for UW Carbone donors. She had driven up from Rockford, Illinois. At the time, she was finished with active treatment and wasn’t diagnosed with MBC.

That changed.

Alicia died in early April.

I didn’t know her well. She was kind and giving. We spoke on the phone where she shared some fundraising tips about what worked well from her experience and some ways to publicize what I wanted to do. We stayed connected and exchanged messages on Instagram.

Even though I didn’t know her well, it makes me feel profoundly sad that she is gone. It happens too often when I hear news of another grandmother, mother, daughter, sister, or friend that has been lost in the cancer community. Someone else I was just getting to know died from MBC last September. A daughter-in-law of a family friend died last week from lung cancer that had spread quickly. Men aren’t to be excluded either. Cancer isn’t picky and doesn’t discriminate. It is very cruel and unfair.

I’ve lost close family members due to cancer. So have my friends. Grief is a powerful bond but watching friends mourn reminds me that grief is a deep well of sadness. There is always room for more.

The need for research is needed more than ever. Funding research is also like a well that never fills. More is always needed.

Raising money has been a driving force in my life over the past year. There have been news stories. Fundraisers have been held around jack-o-lanterns, yoga, kettlebells, Ukrainian eggs, photography, and Pampered Chef products. Local businesses have been involved in the community. Events have been promoted via community bulletin boards. I’ve learned how to use social media. I’ve put aside introverted qualities to advocate for something much bigger than myself. Letters have been written soliciting end of year donations. I’ve sent hundreds of thank you letters that I’ve shed tears while writing because I’m so moved by the support I’ve been given.

I’ve even trained for a ridiculous 5K that has been canceled because of COVID-19. I’ll do it in my neighborhood on my own terms because that’s how I roll.

All events give more exposure to the need for more research. All treatments available today started as research. Research equals hope. Research works.

People have been incredibly generous and supportive. It means a lot to me to have support in my effort to raise money for metastatic breast cancer research at UW Carbone. Each donation makes an impact.

I’m delighted to share I’ve broken the $40,000 mark and am in the homestretch.

And so, I’ll ask.

There are many reputable charities that do much needed work. Everyone has a cause that is near and dear to their heart. Now is a time when incomes may be significantly lower. People may not be able to support charitable giving. I understand.

It’s projected that 116 people per day would die from metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. in 2019. I don’t know what the projected number is for 2020. Due to COVID-19 and an effort to limit exposure, diagnostic tests such a mammograms and some scans to access growth have been canceled or delayed. I have heard of some treatments being paused, or trials not accepting new applicants. Those of us with MBC are quietly hunkering down and trying to stay safe until the pandemic is over. It’s harder for us. I’ve been quiet . . . but I have to start speaking loudly again. I will not accept negative effects to my health as some kind of collateral damage from this virus. I want to live. We all want to see the other side of this and come out of it alive and not damaged from any treatment breaks caused by COVID-19.

Cancer doesn’t wait for curves to flatten or quarantines to end.

100% of donations from my fundraising page go to metastatic breast cancer research at UW Carbone. Research will help many. Click here to donate and read more about what I’ve worked on over the last year. Click here if interested in a video about work done at the Carbone Cancer Center.

I remember when my fundraising page went up last August. I made an initial donation that showed up as a small red dot on the fundraising thermometer. The rest was all white and I wondered if it would ever become redder. Slowly, bit by bit, it grew. It was very satisfying to watch it grow as person after person pitched in to support more research. Every little bit truly helps. It adds up. Now is the time to make that thermometer turn all red. I am grateful for all donations. I appreciate your consideration and support.

My birthday will be a lot different than I had planned this year. Pandemics alter plans. My 50th birthday arguably will be smaller, possibly a party of one. There will be cake. It will still be special as I remember everyone who has supported more research and my goal. I’ve celebrated with every donation made to my page. Every event has been part of my year-long party. I’m only going to turn 50 once, so I will make the most of all the goodness I have.

I will find a way to celebrate.

Always.

Author: Kristie Konsoer

I am a breast cancer survivor, living well with metastatic breast cancer since 2012. This blog is a place where I can share thoughts and ideas on how I feel perceptions of cancer must change, and how I am finding a way to live with strength, hope, meaning, resiliency, humor, and hopefully a little wisdom.

15 thoughts on “Homestretch”

  1. You have been an amazing fundraiser and champion to the MBC community! Come on everyone, dig a little deeper into your pockets and let’s send Kristie into her 50th year dressed in red!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look good in red! Mary, I have learned so much from you. YOU have done so much more in fundraising than I ever will. I know we’ll both keep fundraising and leave the important research to the professionals. I’ll talk to you soon.

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  2. Kristie,
    Your 50th birthday will be a unique and fantastic one. Why? You’re a dear friend who approaching a significant birthday under extraordinary circumstances.
    Your goal to support Carbone has been Herculean. No one will yawn at the effort and results you’ve gotten. The homestretch approaches. Will watch you run on your magnificent birthday along with your friends. You know that your heavenly family is rooting for you. “Run, Kristie, Run!”

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  3. Happy belated 50th birthday. Its not only miraculous getting to the eight year with metastatic cancer but you’ve got the energy it takes to actively fundraise. The last year I did it with the ACS Relay wasn’t as good as years before as our team captain had moved and we moved this year as well. MBC gets so little of the actual funds – less than 3% now I think according to Susan Rahn, that its hard to take when we lose anyone. Whether or not we know them well or are social media acquainted doesn’t matter with such a small, underserved and undercounted group of amazing people. We live knowing we’ll die from our disease and knowing we are not necessarily the ultimate benefactors of the drugs and other treatments that we participate in the research for. Then there’s the survivor guilt and the mourning of those who did not live as long as we did…it’s unfair to all of us. I finally got selected by LBBC to become a trained patient advocate for their hear my voice program and I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with such and amazing organization—yet the opportunity to meet the people of the 2020 class will be who knows when, due to COVID19. Lucky doesn’t;t happen to describe how it feels to try out a virtual training, But it’s a breakthrough and our resilience gets to play a part for yet another script, Sorry for the long comment but reading your post again clearly hit a few chords. With much love and gratitude for all you do and happy birthday 🎁 💜Ilene\

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the good birthday wishes. I am looking forward to celebrating however I can. Congratulations on being selected as an advocate in Hear My Voice. Their work has never been more important and you will be an amazing patient advocate! Sadly, the number of those dying from MBC really hasn’t shifted over many years. Research and attention for MBC cannot be lessened due to other world needs . . . which are also of high importance. There is so much that needs support and all of us working together. We will keep doing what we can. 🙏🏻❤️

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