I discovered Katherine Russell Rich in January
when I stumbled across an April 2010 New York Time’s article she wrote entitled, “17 Years Later, Stage 4 Survivor Is Savoring a Life Well Lived.” Katherine is the author of “Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language” and “The Red Devil: To Hell With Cancer — and Back.” The NYT article began with her revelation that every January 15th she visits a website to announce to others with stage 4 breast cancer that, “I’m still here.”
Katherine's extraordinary life ended two years later on April 3, 2012. She was a beacon of light to other breast cancer survivors living with metastatic cancer. Never apologetic, darkly comic and gritty, she spoke truthfully about life with her disease. She also spoke of the need to never give up hope because "you never know."
Her message of hope spoke to me, a DCIS survivor who, although told I am "cured," still faces the dread of her yearly mammogram. I know I'm not alone. If you are living with metastatic breast cancer or in remission, I think we all have that in common. We all live with the fear that cancer will steal our future. And we all live with the hope that we will be able to say, "I'm still here" for many more years. As Katherine wrote:
On the Web site, I tell the women how deeply I believe there's no such thing as false hope: all hope is valid, even for people like us, even when hope would no longer appear to be sensible. Life itself isn't sensible, I say. No one can say with ultimate authority what will happen - with cancer, with a job that appears shaky, with all revered fortunes - so you may as well seize all glimmers that appear.
But, Katherine was always a realist. That's why she also wrote about the importance of research and the work done by the Army of Women. With our participation in research studies, we march our hope out into the world, where it can do more good for ourselves and others.
Please take the time to learn more about Katherine Russell Rich and her extraordinary life. My hope is that you will be moved, if you haven't done so already, to get involved with the Army of Women in her honor. Hope is a beautiful thing, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum. Put your hope in service to the cause of prevention and cure of breast cancer today.
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