At the end of 2019, at the Advanced Breast Cancer Group workshop, women from the group as well as group therapists Mary O’Brien and Pia Hirsch participated in an activity – ‘what can I say’ – designed to break down barriers to talking about metastatic cancer. They answered questions and responded to comments about living with metastatic breast cancer.
Their responses were recorded and are available to view below. We are grateful to the women for their honesty and openness. Their overwhelming message was – ‘don’t avoid the elephant in the room’ – it’s okay to talk about it
What Can I Say? When a woman dies
Question: "what is it like in the group when a woman dies?" In this video Mary and Pia talk about the experience of losing a member of the group.
What Can I Say? Emotional outcomes
From Mary and Pia’s perspective, 'depressing' is not a word that describes either being a therapist or a member of this group. It is challenging, confronting, inspiring and many other things, including fun at times, but it is not depressing.
What Can I Say? Lorraine
Lorraine reinforces the importance of continued research into breast cancer and the benefits she has received from the extra knowledge gained through ongoing research. Lorraine also responds to a question about living with pain, sharing her experience of putting up with pain when she shouldn't.
What Can I Say? The ABCG compilation
At the end of 2019, at the Advanced Breast Cancer Group workshop, women from the group as well as group therapists Mary O'Brien and Pia Hirsch participated in an activity – ‘what can I say’ - designed to break down barriers to talking about metastatic cancer. They answered questions and responded to comments about living with metastatic breast cancer. Their responses were recorded and over the next few weeks we will be sharing them with you. We are grateful to the women for their honesty and openness. Their overwhelming message was – ‘don’t avoid the elephant in the room’ – it’s okay to talk about it.
What Can I Say? Describing ABCG
Question: "Isn't a group like this depressing?" Mary takes a slightly different approach to the question of what is considered 'depressing' … referencing the data and results from their research which shows that emotional wellbeing of women in the ABCG generally improves over time.
What Can I Say? Affecting and inspiring
Question: "Isn't it depressing running a group like this?" For Mary and Pia, depressing is not a word they would use to describe being a part of the ABCG.
What can I say? Starting a conversation
Question: "If someone didn't know what to say, how would they start a conversation with you about cancer?" The best thing someone can say - is just to say something … don't worry so much that you avoid the cancer elephant in the room altogether.
What Can I Say? Impact of research
Comment: "But they are spending so much money on research" Lorraine says 'so they should. Continued research is so important as it may not yet cure metastatic breast cancer, but it enables women to live longer and with better quality of life.
What Can I Say? Living with MBC
Question: "You’re so brave, how do you keep going?" For Leanne, it’s not a question of bravery, but rather one of choice and purpose, to really live with metastatic breast cancer, not to die from it.
What Can I say? Importance of talking
Comment: "oh well, it could be worse" Lynette expands on this comment by looking at the intent behind it (and any other question or comment), sharing her thoughts on responding to what could be considered insensitive.
What Can I Say? DI
In this video, Di shares how open she is to talk about her diagnosis and what she is going through, when someone asks. Di also tackles one of the more difficult questions asked; "what are your thoughts about death".
What Can I Say? LYNETTE
We have heard so many times how much the women in the group support each other in learning to live with a metastatic disease. Changing that mindset of living with rather than dying from, is something Lynette expresses in answering a question about planning for the future. Lynette also responds to a rather blunt comment based on her own personal experience.
What Can I Say? GERRY
In this video, Gerry answers a question about whether she has feelings of guilt when talking to loved ones about how she might be feeling. She also talks about how to respond to friends who have difficulty knowing what to say.
What Can I Say? ALISON
Alison is a close friend of one of our members, Gerry, and here she shares how she answers questions about Gerry whilst still respecting the privacy of her friend. And how much they love coffee!
What Can I Say? LEONIE
The purpose of 'what can I say' is not to put barriers up on questions or comments, but to break them down. The caution surrounding discussions about terminal disease generally leads to a total avoidance of it. Which, as Leonie points out in this video is the worst thing someone could do. Leonie shares not only her experience talking about her diagnosis, but also the very real and personal reaction she had when she found out about it, and the strength and solidarity she feels in being part of the ABCG.
What Can I Say? LEANNE
Leanne is incredibly open and engaged in sharing her 'detour' after her metastatic diagnosis and in this video took on four questions with honesty and humour. Sharing a message not only for women living with a metastatic disease but something everyone can learn from and embrace.