Living life to the fullest: a metavivor's optimistic journey

Graduations are amazing, awe-inspiring events! 

I have attended two graduations this week. One for my stepson, Tre, who graduated from high school, and one for my youngest son, Joshua, who graduated from kindergarten. And just like everything else I experience since I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic de novo breast cancer last year, I felt the emotions in these moments that much deeper.

Although it’s just an hour or two for a graduation ceremony followed by another hour or two of family celebration afterwards, it feels like a win. Not just a win or feeling of accomplishment and pride for our sons, but as parents.  It feels like validation for the striving we as parents do each day.

Each day, we push ourselves so that our kids have the best possible life we can help create for them.

Each day living with metastatic breast cancer, I push through all the side effects from the cancer drugs to make it to work and work hard every day.

Each day, I’m motivated to take care of myself as best as I can so that I can do all I can to keep my breast cancer at bay.

Each day, I do advocacy work to push for more money to go towards metastatic breast cancer research and better resources to stop the deaths from this disease.

Tomorrow is never promised; But, I want to be here!

I want to see my kids grow up and continue to take in all the moments.

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to be at the graduations this year. Being there made me thankful that despite my diagnosis, I’m still here a year later. It made me think of the other moms who have passed on because of metastatic breast cancer and left young children behind. It made me think of the women who can’t have biological children because of infertility caused by their breast cancer treatments.

So, I am grateful.

It meant so much to be at Tre’s graduation. His dad and I have been together since Tre was three years old. I always joke that he’s my bonus baby I didn’t have to carry in my belly. His mom, his dad, his grandparents and I have all worked hard together to raise him so that he can have a great future. So being at the graduation felt good to bask in that success.

Being at Joshua’s graduation from kindergarten made me feel like we were witnessing the beginnings of greatness. I want to be here for the high school and college graduations for my younger sons and Tre.

But I know the statistics.

Will the kindergarten graduation be the only one I get to attend?

I refuse to believe that! I don’t live in the world of probability; I live in the world of possibility! I will do all I can to thrive, live and be here for my boys and my family. And if I go out, they will know mommy went out swinging!  

Love and family are my ultimate inspiration and feed my soul.

I have always loved life.

However, living with a life-threatening illness, makes me focus more on how I’m spending my time and energy. Life is short, and not to be wasted.

I don’t want to be remembered as only a workaholic.

I want to be remembered as a woman who was loving, passionate, full of life and a force to be reckoned with.

I put 200% in everything I focus on. So not just work and advocacy, but life, love and family too. This makes me think constantly about creating opportunities to enjoy precious moments with my family.

My goal is for everyone I love to know and feel what they mean to me.

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Meet the Breast Cancer Baddie

Jamil Rivers was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 39. She continues to work full-time as a nonprofit CFO and live an active life. She became an advocate to use her voice and experiences to help advance legislative policy, medical research and customize support to better meet the needs of individuals impacted by breast cancer, particularly metastatic and African-American patients. She also launched The Chrysalis Initiative which provides mentoring and resource navigation to women with breast cancer and engages in outreach and education for African-American women to assess their breast cancer risk. Jamil and her husband, Rick have three children and reside in Drexel Hill, PA.