This is Her LIFE Song


1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.

2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.

3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control of the disease and quality of life.

5. About 6% to 10% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.

6. Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person’s original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.

7. 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.

8. Young people, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

9. Like early stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast cancer.

10. Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.

11. Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some will live for many years.

12. There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Every patient and their disease is unique.

13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13 and to access resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer and their caregivers, visit

(click HERE to download a flyer from you can print and distribute )

Donate to support children and teens whose mother or father has died through the Tradition Program.  Honor the past. Celebrate the present. Build the future. #givegriefwords

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

A lot of fight left in me

Birthdays, Weddings, Bracelets…


By Nicole Lyons

So, lately I have been thinking about my Mom and how much I have been missing her. It is October which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it would have been her birthday in a few weeks…My brother is getting married in a few months and his fiancés shower is this weekend. It hit me the other day that my mom wouldn’t be there for my wedding, or when I had kids and that’s when the water works started to come. I know that I have so many family members who will be there for me when it comes time for that but it is not the same and it will never be the same without my mom here. The other day I was at lunch with friends, and my one friend who I am not very close with was talking about how her mom got her a bracelet and she thought it was ugly. That set me off, and I was extremely upset when she said that. She knows that my mom passed away, all of my friends do, but I don’t think they realize what they say effects me. I would do anything to have my mom to give me bracelets, to have arguments with her, just for her to be there would mean everything to me. I understand she’s with me in spirit but it is not the same and it never will be. I am lucky enough to have a great support system, but I just want to have my mom and be able to hug her and talk to her when I am stressed out about school or boys or just life in general. You don’t know what you have until it is gone.


Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons

About the Author:

Hi my name is Nicole Lyons and I am 21 years old. I currently attend Millersville University, studying Social Work. My mom passed away when I was a junior in high school and I had a really hard time. Family Lives On has a special place in my heart, they helped me remember all of the good memories of my mom. I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it.

Nicole is a member of the Family Lives On Alumni Advisory Group.

For more information about Family Lives On Foundation or to donate to help more children like Nicole celebrate annual traditions go to or click here.


8 Things A Mom Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Should Know


Here’s What to Do if You are the 1 in 8.

Re- Posted from Scary Mommy Blog


Anyone who has had breast cancer will tell you they remember where they were when they got the news, but little else about what their doctor said immediately afterwards. I’m no exception. I was celebrating my 45 birthday — my kids were 10 and 12 and we’d recently moved from Maryland to Texas. There was no family nearby, and I was only just beginning to make new friends. It felt like the end of the world.

It’s been eight years since the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Looking back, there are a number of things I wish I’d known at the start of my journey that would have helped me to better navigate my way, especially as a mom with two young sons. Here’s a list of suggestions for other moms who are newly diagnosed or in treatment – I hope it helps you, or someone you love…

1. Tell Your Kids A Truth They Can Understand.

Kids figure stuff out, and the more you try to hide something, thinking you’re protecting them, the more it can end up doing the opposite. I didn’t want to hide my illness, but I also didn’t want to scare my sons, so I only told them what I thought they could handle: that I had something called cancer, that you can’t catch it, and that my doctors were helping me to get rid of it. I also explained that it meant I was going to have a lot of appointments, and some days I might be more tired than usual, but their father and I loved them and we were here, as we always are, to take care of them. Talking to them actually helped me as well – I knew I had a job to do and goals to keep.

Someone suggested that the radiation process can be demystified by taking your kids to see where it’s going to take place. I did — they met the doctor and the radiation technician who gave them a tour. By the time they were done, they thought the machine was totally cool and interesting and I wondered if I had budding scientists on my hands (no on that, btw).

On days when I needed more down time, especially after the surgery, and when the radiation caused my skin to burn, we watched movies or cartoons or played games together. It went from potentially being scary seeing your mom so tired from an illness, to thinking, Oh…we know what to do, and we can help!

2. Make Your Evenings Cancer-Free.

After news of my cancer reached family and friends, the phone began to ring, especially at night. It’s when most people catch up, right? Trouble is, that’s when my kids needed me most, and I needed to think about “it” least. I also didn’t want my sons to see me holed up in a room, or overhear me answering questions about my illness. Mostly, I wanted to end the day feeling upbeat — doing things we normally would: after-school activities, homework, dinner and bedtime routines. So I made a rule: I didn’t talk about the cancer at night. I went from dreading the phone ringing to letting it go to voicemail in 0 to 60. And though it was hard to tell people this– after all, they meant well– it was liberating.

3. Take Some Time To Weigh Your Options.

A diagnosis is only the beginning of the journey, and you have to learn to be your own, best advocate along the way. This was a sobering truth for me: that my course of treatment could only be recommended — the hard decisions were mine and mine alone to make.

In order to make those hard decisions, you need to be well-informed, and you can’t be well-informed until you step back and research your options. Take notes, make calls, make appointments, and ask lots of questions, even if you’d rather pretend it never happened. When I got the news, I thought I had to run as fast as I could to get the cancer out of me. It wasn’t until I met my surgeon, who told me it was okay to slow the process down a little (just how little depends on the type and stage of cancer), that I truly began to understand the difference between an emotional medical decision and an informed medical decision.

4. Know It’s Not Your Fault.

It’s weird how your mind plays tricks on you when you’re down. After my diagnosis, I thought perhaps I’d done something to deserve it, something to cause the cancer. This was magnified by the number of people (including strangers in waiting rooms, and people I knew well) who told me about how they felt breast cancer was brought on by stress. That it was self-induced. I suppose in retrospect this theory helped them distance themselves from cancer — gave them a sense that they could control what felt out-of-control, and provided them with a sense that they wouldn’t get it too. It’s certainly a theory. But it’s a theory that carries with it the powerful implication of blame and shame.

I’m here to tell you, we do not cause our own breast cancer. It’s not payback for something we did in our past. We are not bad people. We are not jinxed. There are many unavoidable causes of stress in life. It’s part of life. Yes, some of us more tightly wound than others — our differences are what make the world go round.

5. Schedule Treatments So That You Have Something To Look Forward To Afterwards.

The size of my tumor put me on the border for needing chemotherapy. The decision of whether or not to have it came down to statistical outcomes, and my gut instinct. No doctor would tell me what to do — that became very clear, very quickly. In the end, I opted for surgery, six weeks of radiation, and five years of the drug Tamoxifen. To make sure I didn’t come home from radiation therapy feeling sorry for myself, I scheduled my weekday appointments an hour before I picked up my youngest son from school. He was the best medicine — one look at his face when he saw me, not to mention his loving hug, well, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Each day I picked him up, another round of radiation was behind me.

6. Ask For And Accept Help.

I’m terrible at this. I think a lot of moms are. And my husband, like a lot of men, isn’t by nature a nurturer. People did ask me to let them know if I needed anything. Trouble is, when you’re going through something you’ve never gone through, you don’t always know exactly what you’ll need, until you need it most, and you’re sitting there all by yourself. I think the best help is the kind that just happens: the person who says, I can pick up your son and bring him to the game, or I’m dropping off some dinner and won’t stay but open the door at 5 o’clock, k? Or, I’m coming with you today to radiation, I’ve got “People Magazine” for us!

There were days I was bone tired, or sad, or lonely, or all three, but thought I should be able to keep up and life should continue as usual. The truth is, life wasn’t as usual, and I am human, and humans need humans.

And it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, or to accept it.

7. Just Say No To People Who Want To Tell You Cancer Stories.

I don’t know what it is: perhaps people feel as if they are relating to or bonding with you when they tell you stories about people they know with cancer. I think they really and truly mean well, but I have to say, unless you ask to hear these stories, it’s not always helpful. For me, even the positive stories were hard to hear — I mean, how do you live up to a success story when it’s not always in your control? What I really needed was for them to listen to my story, without judging.

8. Just Say Yes To A Mantra.

I thought mantras and deep breathing techniques were all New Age and goofy until I realized I spent a considerable amount of my waking moments holding my breath. Literally holding my breath. So I came up with a couple of mantras and visuals which I used to help me get through my journey. My favorite visualization was chocolate, and later it became an actualization – I ate some when I got home. What can I say? I’m shallow that way.

Truth is, I’ve never heard anyone on their sickbed say they were craving Brussels sprouts, and as much as I like them, visualizing one won’t take me to my very own happy place, regardless of how much creamy dressing I pile on.

So it wasn’t the end of the world after all, just the end of the world as I knew it. I’m still here, eating chocolate, applying many of the lessons I learned to my day-to-day life, and watching my boys become men.

About the Author…
Melissa writes about life’s journey — the wistful, the wonderful, and the wry. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including: Newsweek, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Huffington Post,, The Los Angeles Times, as well as CNN Radio. You can follow her on Twitter @MelissaTShultz and on her blog, Sisterhood of Mothers.
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Family Lives On Foundation supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father has died. Our Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication, and celebration. To donate, volunteer or for more information visit the Family Lives On Foundation website.