Episode 11 of the Intersection of Cancer and Life features Annmarie Otis, the founder of Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer. Annmarie was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer in 2012, and Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer is her fierce and unconventional initiative to promote awareness, early detection, and advocacy surrounding breast cancer, with a special focus on how the disease impacts younger people. On behalf of Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer, Annmarie has been featured in area publications, appeared on TV, local radio, and Huff Post Live, and hosts a series of monthly events through various cancer organizations. Since its inception in 2012, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer has raised and contributed over $750,000 to a variety of breast cancer organizations, including Stand Up to Cancer, Duke Hospital, Wilmot Cancer Center, the Upstate Cancer Center, CancerConnects, Personal P.Ink, and the Maureen’s Hope Foundation.
Annmarie communicates regularly with a growing network of patients, their loved ones, and supporters through a variety of social media, where she candidly shares her thoughts and experiences and welcomes others to join the conversation, discover their own strengths, and discuss their journeys.
As I mentioned in the show introduction, my dear friend Rebecca Scheinkman died on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018. Underneath her continuously sunny demeanor, Rebecca was a fierce advocate, raising over $100,000 for breast cancer research through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Until only a few days before she died, while navigating brain metastases with unfathomable cognitive symptoms, Rebecca continued to fundraise and advocate for metastatic breast cancer research. She is a bright light that will be missed tremendously.
In addition to Rebecca’s death, after processing my scan results, I am fired up. There is so much more work to be done with regards to recognition of metastatic breast cancer, and metastatic cancers as a whole. We still live in a world in which one in eight women will face a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime, and approximately 30% of those women will develop a metastatic recurrence. These numbers are unacceptable. We do not get to control so many of the things that happen to us in our lives. But we get to control our narratives, our responses, and the paths we choose when we are faced with challenges. As John Donne wrote in 1623, “therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” If you are wondering when the time will be right to move forward, to find space to work for something meaningful, the time is right now.
Please consider making a donation to one of the following organizations:
Metavivor – to fund metastatic breast cancer research
The Cancer Couch Foundation – to fund metastatic breast cancer research
Breast Cancer Research Foundation – in memory of Rebecca Scheinkman
METUP – to provide financial support for policy advocacy and structural change