Damn. Just damn.
I know it’s been a really, really long time since I’ve been here. I’m sorry for that. There are so many times I’ve meant to write but…you know…life. Life. And that’s what has brought me back here today. Because a life has been lost. An incredible life.
Uzma was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer about a year before I was diagnosed. If I remember correctly, she was already blogging and, when I was looking for others who had gone through breast cancer, I happened upon her writing. I remember reading and thinking, “wow, she puts into words everything I am feeling!” She didn’t sugar coat cancer. Through raw honesty mixed with poetic metaphor, she got to the heart of what it means to live with breast cancer. I was so drawn to that. And when I wrote about my own cancer experience, I channeled her openness and bravery in my own writing.
I remember when she announced in 2016 that her cancer had come back. “Fuck,” I thought! “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Any time I heard about a recurrence, I thought that but, for some reason, this hit hard. I was not scared to hear about it, but I was scared for Uzma, her husband and her children. Because, for those who don’t know, a stage 4 recurrence is terminal. The average life expectancy is 3 years, although it can be much longer…or shorter. You just don’t know. About a year ago, Uzma wrote, “The data, although new drugs and options remain strong, states: three years average. Granted I am an “n” of one, unique in my disease, body and personality, I still can’t deny the power of odds and their relevance in medicine. Three years echoes in my mind often. This coming New Year is my third year, the final year for an average metastatic breast cancer patient. I am by no means average. I am by no means ready to die either. But fear rears its ugly head. And the thought of ringing in possibly my last year in a fortnight is quite haunting.” Just over a year later, she is gone.
But still, she did not let her diagnosis stop her from living life. While enduring treatment, she has gifted us all with her book, named after her blog, Left Boob Gone Rogue. I’ll admit, I haven’t read or even bought it yet. That’s going to change. But I do not doubt that her words and wisdom are helping thousands of women just like her blog. She has left that as her legacy, to help all of the women who come after her.
Uzma was a force, a light and fierce advocate for breast cancer awareness. She hated pinktober. She loved her family, her work and her life. She did not want to die. She did not want to leave.
On January 3rd, she wrote on her facebook page, “How am I supposed to feel after buying my grave. I have always had a fantasy about a big shadowing tree as if I am sheltered.” She knew the end was near. Uzma, I hope you are now sheltered by that tree and all of our love for you. You will be dearly, dearly missed. I am so sorry this happened to you.
Fuck cancer. Fuck cancer! FUCK CANCER!!!!!!!