Stage IV breast cancer implies that the cancer cells have spread to distant parts of the body, such as the brain, liver, bones and lungs. Stage four is considered incurable, but treatment may extend the lifespan of a patient for several years. The five-year survival rate is 22%.
The first time I ever felt restrained by silence was when my mother told me the cancer had come back. It dripped from her words and formed a puddle at her feet; she seemed unaware of the flood she was creating. Her bedroom floor was struggling to hold the weight of her words. It seemed ready to crack and send us falling four floors, down to the lobby. The cancer had spread to her kidneys and bones. For months, she had told me it was arthritis. She walked with a limp at first, then with a cane, and then not at all. She had told me it was arthritis. Tragedy has the tendency to make you honest. I tried finding anger, but I couldn’t; tragedy also inspires forgiveness. The silence that separated us that day was bitter. It found its way into my mouth, and prevented me from talking.