The cancer roller coaster was in full swing this weekend.
Saturday was my 42nd birthday. I had a lovely day celebrating by having some friends over for brunch. It’s exactly how I wanted to spend my day – eating the food I love with a few people I love and love me dearly.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve learned to spend more time doing what I want to do and say no to the things I don’t want to do. And that’s what this birthday was about.
Then Sunday was my three-year anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer. This year’s anniversary was a bit easier than last year. I feel more stable these days, more like my pre-cancer self. I’m feeling good, exercising regularly, traveling, going out with friends, staying up past 9 p.m. (watch out!)
Having said that, I know all too well not to get conceited with cancer. Yes, I’m grateful that I caught my breast cancer early and have survived. But early detection doesn’t always mean a lifetime of survival. Women (and men) survive breast cancer in the breast. When breast cancer spreads to other organs, or metastasizes, that’s when people die of breast cancer. And as I’ve learned from my research and Twitter friends, 30% of early stage breast cancer returns as metastatic breast cancer. There’s currently no cure for metastatic breast cancer. And only 2% of funding for breast cancer research goes to metastatic breast cancer research. That’s gotta change, for all of our sakes.
I’m painfully award that breast cancer will follow me around for my lifetime, with both physical and mental scars. I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘done’ with cancer, whether that’s in the metaphorical sense or the literal sense. But I hope I’m one of the lucky 70% where my early detection doesn’t return with a metastatic stage. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that.
So for now I’ll celebrate these important anniversary milestones. Birthdays are, by definition, a celebration of live. I always loved my birthday, and now it takes on even more meaning for me. Another year with my family and friends. Another year of making my dreams come true. Another year of good health. These are no small victories.
So while everyone else complains about the grey hairs during their birthdays, I’m grateful to have more time to do the things I still want to do and to grow old.
Thanks for the 30% stat–didn’t know it was so high. I was told that ER/PR + breast cancers have a higher rate of recurrence in the long run which is what I have. I keep telling myself I going to live to be 100:)
Thanks for reading and commenting. Most people don’t know about the 30% stat. We need more education and awareness about mets. I haven’t heard about ER+/PR+ having a higher recurrence rate. I have the same diagnosis. I’m going to ask my oncologist. But either way, there’s nothing wrong with hoping to live to 100. Be well.
I haven’t heard about that either :-/. What I have heard is that when it comes to ER/PR+ breast cancers, they can come back at any time in your life time, even 30 years later.
Happy belated Birthday to you!! Wishing you many, many more healthy years ahead.
Good for you on doing the things you want to do and saying no to the things you don’t want to do. It’s important to know where to invest your energy.
About the 30%, I suspect that number is lower than what it really is, sadly. For example, I am not sure all MBC deaths are recorded accurately.
We def. need more funding for stage 4. They are doing things backwards (I am no MD but..). If we can figure out why cells travel then we would be solving a huge part of the puzzle.
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