As I think about becoming 49 I realize I was never 48. Instead I spent the year being five. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. So as I hit 48, I also became five. Every month it was “five years since…”
Being five was not a bad thing. It marked a milestone. Most cancers have a high five year survival rate, which means you are still alive after five years. However, it doesn’t mean you are cancer free or that your cancer hasn’t recurred. It just means you are still alive after five years. But reaching the five year mark with no evidence of disease is huge. I told my oncologist I feel as if I am back into the general population. (She smiled).
Another observation is an awareness of the breast cancer community. I follow a couple of blogs. I read the news. And I paid attention during Pink October. By paying attention I learned a few things. The most important thing I learned has to do with metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer. If you read my posts during October you know that 30% of early stage breast cancer will recur and metastasize. Yes, it means that 70% have no recurrence and die of something else. Hopefully old age. But this statistic is not discussed as part of treatment. And 30% seems awfully high for a disease that is supposed to have such good prognosis.
What shocked me was to read about a real life person whose cancer came back 20 years later only to metastasize a few years after that. That is correct – 25 years after initial diagnosis! So it doesn’t end after five years. This is why I am taking care of myself; eating healthy, working at being a healthy weight, and exercising. (I encourage this for everyone).
I am also observing how my life is progressing. I sometimes wonder how my professional life as a lawyer and compliance specialist fits with my personal life as a breast cancer survivor and blogger. I know there’s a connection, and lately I’ve been watching as these two worlds come together. Right now it’s difficult to explain, but I’m sure there will be posts generated once I find the words. For now I’m going to observe, and see how God unfolds this new year. A year of being 49.If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor and now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.