Last July, on our 2015 Summer House Concert Tour, I had the privilege of a late night, post-concert heart-to-heart with one amazing human being, Beth Caldwell. Beth is a best friend of one of our favorite people (and also our house concert hostess that evening) Katie. Katie was thrilled that Beth was able to join us for the concert that night, given that she’d recently been through some pretty hefty treatment that had sapped her energy and made getting out of bed a big deal.
Before I go any further, let me let Beth introduce herself to you:
My name is Beth Caldwell, and I have metastatic breast cancer, which is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs. In my case, my cancer spread to my lungs, liver, bones, and brain. Once breast cancer has spread beyond the breast, there is no cure. I will die of or with my disease. In fact, we don’t even know how many people are living with metastatic breast cancer today, because our national cancer database doesn’t track most of these patients. We only track that their cancer became metastatic when they die of it. More than 40,000 Americans die of metastatic breast cancer every year — that’s 113 every day.
I’ve lost so many friends to this disease … and I don’t want to lose any more of them. That’s why my dear friend Jennie Grimes and I founded an organization called MET UP. It’s modeled on ACT UP, and our mission is to change the landscape for metastatic cancer through direct action. We’re fighting to save our lives, and the lives of everyone with metastatic cancers. Of all that breast cancer money you see flowing every October, only a very tiny portion goes to researching metastatic breast cancer, the only kind that’s terminal. We intend to change that, so that people with metastatic breast cancer can live longer and more fully.
I was so honored that Shannon wrote this song, this anthem for our movement. It captures what it’s like living with metastatic breast cancer, and why we’re fighting to change our reality. I hope you’ll consider joining us in our movement — you can start by visiting our website, METUP.org.
I’ll get to the song that Beth talked about in a minute. But before that, let me say that Beth made a huge impression on me that night, and she continues to do so as our friendship grows. She is a radiant, whip-smart, sassy, funny, and contagiously motivated woman. The world needs Beth Caldwell in it, not to mention her husband, her kids, her family, and her friends. She is living with a disease that she knows will probably take her life, and she has chosen to spend her precious time fighting for desperately needed changes to increase funding for Stage IV research to find a cure — changes that will save the lives of thousands and thousands of her sisters and brothers who are now living with or will be diagnosed with metastatic cancers in the future.
You guys. Beth Caldwell INSPIRES ME.
That night last July, Beth told me all about her work with MET UP (if you haven’t looked them up yet, please do). She told me of an event they were planning for the fall where members of MET UP were going to stage a “die-in” — it’s like a sit-in demonstration, but instead these Metsers would lie down with one another side by side as a visual aid to show how many people are dying each day from this disease. She wondered if perhaps I had a song that I could lend them as a theme song for the event. I didn’t have anything in my catalogue that fit the bill, so I told Beth I’d write them a song from scratch. Like when I do personal songs.
In September and October, Beth and I worked together to decide on the direction for the song. She wrote openly and honestly about her experience with breast cancer and about her fight with her fellow Metsers for their cause. I was struck by her courage and by the unwavering tenacity to fight for those who are in the same boat she is. Here is their rally song, available to stream or download for free if you like.
Like I said, the world needs Beth Caldwell in it. And we need the thousands and thousands of others like her who are living with metastatic disease as well. This offering is small, but it’s one thing I know how to do to help make happen the changes that will keep them around for a long time. Please listen and share; and if you feel inclined to join the movement, visit METUP.org.