SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Metastatic Breast Cancer is a deadly disease. For their efforts to provide solidarity for survivors and fighters alike, one Union County-based support organization was honored for their work with a proclamation.
The group had been previously honored by the Union County Freeholders at one of their meetings earlier this month.
Springfield's proclamation honored Co-founders Tami Bowling and Lauren O'Brien for their work in bringing awareness to the disease, and fundraising towards research grants. Bowling was on-hand to receive the proclamation and spoke about her diagnosis.
"Four years ago, via a routine mammogram at the age of 41, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, when they did some more testing, they found out that it had already metastasized to my liver and therefore, it was incurable and terminal."
Bowling said that while early detection and research are important, 30 percent of women diagnosed with an earlier stage will develop stage four cancer. Despite that, Bowling noted that only five percent of U.S. research dollars go towards stage four.
She said that her chance meeting with a woman going through the same disease brought the two of them closer together. And suddenly within a few months, her friend passed away, leaving behind a young daughter.
"I voted to continue the advocacy in her memory and in her honor," Bowling said. "That is why I formed METAvivors of New Jersey, and I co-founded it with Lauren O'Brien, and in the past month, we already have 310 members of the group."
Bowling also noted ways that friends and family can help with the group.
"So many people say to me, 'what can I do?' and 'How can I help?'" Bowling said. "So this group is not only for patients, it's for families and friends who want to be informed, who want to email legislators for better laws for terminal patients. It's a way to really involve everyone, and I think that everybody has really responded well to that."
Near the end of her speech, Bowling made a call for people to understand what others may be going through even if it can not be seen.
"It's challenging to live with an invisible illness," Bowling said. "As you walk the streets every day and you run into people, you just never know what people are fighting."
"Despite this diagnosis, I have found that finding gratitude in every day is truly the key to happiness," she added.