January 6th, 2017 an remarkable young woman named Brandi passed away from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 32. Brandi and I never had the opportunity to meet but the more I learn about her, the more her story inspires me. Brandi & I have similar outlooks on life. Our journey with MBC is similar too. We both had to deal with liver and bone metastases at a young age. So similar that we both had metastases in our right hip and experienced the unfortunate pains of MBC. We both don’t have kids. But we both have a loving and strong support system.
I have been fortunate to learn about Brandi’s life and what she dealt with from her boyfriend Mike and her mother. During their time of grief they thought of others, not just anyone but a total stranger, ME. Women like us can thrive for years, we can look healthy, some of us can grow our hair back pending on which treatments we are on. You see us travel and celebrate our lives, because when a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer hits your life you are faced with some big decisions. This is where Brandi and I share so much in common. Brandi and her boyfriend traveled, laughed and had fun. I told him how I loved the slide show at her celebration of life which was held in her home town East Hampton, CT. It was a picture of the two of them kayaking on a beautiful lake. I mentioned how I would love to do that but not sure if I would have the strength and how strong she looked. Even me, someone battling the same fight can’t see her illness. She had a beautiful smile and just seeing her photos her energy radiated from the slides. He said, “she didn’t paddle I did for her.” And at that moment it hit home because it would be the same for me.
After talking to Mike, I felt justified that spending whatever extra money we have to see the world, make memories and live the remaining time to the fullest. Mike also (probably without knowing) gave me so much comfort sharing the details of Brandi’s last days and months. Yes, their are stories of us who die suddenly, but after hearing Brandi’s story and a few others recently it can go like this. Some of us find treatments early on that their bodies respond to keeping us stable. While some of our worst nightmares come true and our bodies do not respond to available treatments. Even when we do respond to treatments, no one knows when or how soon they will continue to work. When a treatment fails you are back at the starting point. After treatments start to fail then it can escalate quickly, so you want to hit your bucket list before you don’t have the strength.
Brandi didn’t think of herself when the end came near. She wanted to pay it forward to someone facing what she went through. Brandi and Mike searched for someone similar to her and found me and my supportive oncology nurses singing to Mariah Carey. And decided together that when she passed that in lieu of flowers donations to go to me.
When Brandi passed, my go-fund me (which has been relatively quiet) started to ding and ding. I didn’t understand what was going on. Comments saying in memory of Mother Wolf. I was thinking did they donate to the wrong person?!?! Soon I started to do some research and I realized what was going on. I immediately went to my under 40 metastatic breast cancer thrivers group asking if people knew who she was. (Our private under 40 group consists of about 2,000 woman, we are a small community and we all stay on top of each other so usually when someone turns for the worse we know) Brandi didn’t participate in this group so none of us knew. Finally, when I found her obituary I started to cry hysterically. This is a beautiful but sad thing to process. She thought of others until the end. She did not lose her battle to cancer. It is a completely unfair fight. She won her fight with cancer, she’s now pain free, she left a mark on people’s hearts which was apparent at her celebration of life, and she left a mark on my heart.
Brandi i’m not to far behind you and thank you for letting me feel what you made me feel. Your act of kindness will not be forgotten because when its my turn to say peace out to cancer, i’ll ask for the same but in memory of us.
Many people expressed to Mike wishing to purchase Brandi’s celebration of life t-shirts. (The photo below) If you wish to buy a t-shirt in memory of her the link is: http://venmo.com/Mike-Bair (there is a button below the shirt). They have not stopped thinking of others. The t-shirts are @20.00 and $15.00 will go to support my journey. Many of us at our age have a small fear of being forgotten after we pass, so buy a shirt to keep her memory alive!
Facebook post from Mike: "Brandi Tree T Available for Purchase! Many people have expressed interest in buying Brandi's Celebration of Life t-shirt's. If you want one or many, please send me an email (email@example.com) with the subject line "Brandi Tree" and include your size (please note, women's t's seem to run smaller, so if you're a size small, elect for a medium), delivery address, and your preferred payment avenue (check or Venmo: http://venmo.com/Mike-Bair). The shirts are $20 and $15 will go to support Larissa Podermanski, see her story: https://www.gofundme.com/7bzm8479 . Please submit your order by end of day on 3/10/17. Share and spread the word!! Howl Howl Howl !!!"