When Emily walked into her doctor’s office for a routine exam, her physician felt a lump on her breast. At 32, the mother and attorney was shocked to learn she had breast cancer. Further tests revealed the disease had already spread to her sternum, ribs, pelvis, and spine—it was stage IV, also known as metastatic breast cancer.
“My first thought when I was diagnosed was, ‘I don’t want to die,’” Emily, who is now 34, says.
Her son Felix had just turned two and she had just celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary.
“Living with metastatic breast cancer forced me to reckon with my mortality much earlier than I anticipated,” she said. “It’s hard to reconcile the fact that I will never have enough time with my son, and that there are parts of his life that I will not know.”
Metastatic breast cancer remains incurable; however, research developments have helped people with the disease live fuller lives than ever before. Metastatic breast cancer research remains a priority at BCRF with $27 million dedicated to the area this year.
Emily has experienced the impact of research firsthand.
“I have seen research in almost every facet of my different forms of treatment,” she says. Emily has been on numerous treatment protocols that have extended her life.
She points to Ibrance, a medicine that gave her a year of progression-free survival.
“That year was a gift,” she says. “Without it, I would have been thrown into a much more difficult, less effective treatment regimen.”
Metastatic breast cancer often mutates and becomes resistant to available treatments. Emily has made it her mission to advocate for more metastatic breast cancer research. She hosts a podcast and documents her experience on her blog.
“I strongly believe in harnessing the power of our own voices to reclaim the pieces of life that cancer has taken,” she says. Her work has generated a community that advocates for improved resources, research, and a better understanding of life with metastatic breast cancer.
For Emily, aligning herself with BCRF comes naturally.
“BCRF is dedicated to funding metastatic breast cancer research. I have every hope that information from this research will help prolong my life,” she says.
“Research is the reason that we cannot stop looking for better treatments for metastatic breast cancer, because without research, I would not be here today. And without research, I will not be here tomorrow.”
Read more personal stories about breast cancer from BCRF’s Research Is The Reason campaign here.
Editor’s Note: We are mourning the loss of Emily Garnett, a treasured member of our BCRF family, who passed away on March 29, 2020. After her diagnosis, Emily began chronicling her experience living with metastatic breast cancer on her blog, Beyond the Pink Ribbon. She quickly became a prominent advocate and voice in the metastatic breast cancer community. Emily was introduced to BCRF as the recipient of The Pink Agenda’s Fab-U-Wish program in October 2018. And BCRF had the honor of sharing her story above through the Research Is the Reason initiative. As Emily waited for a breakthrough that would give her more time on this Earth, she made it her life’s mission to fight for more understanding, more treatment options, and more research into metastatic breast cancer. All those who had the privilege of knowing her in real life and online will never forget her selflessness and her joy.
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