Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Fifth Canceranniversary!

Black dots represent recurrence risk for TNBC; White dots are for estrogen positive breast cancer.
 At 5 years, the risk of recurrences for TNBC dips below that of ER+, which more or less holds steady
 for 10
years. Note at one year, the risk is about 6 times as high. I've seen similar results in other studies.
The 'n' for
TNBC is not high but you can see a 33% recurrence rate versus 16% for non-TNBC

So what do you give a girl who has survived five years past diagnosis for her 5th anniversary.
 Peace of mind! Honestly I rarely think about cancer any more..bigger fish to fry. But for at
 least a year and a half or so, it was all I could think about. Dark, dark thoughts. How unfair 
this all was! An early possible, painful death! The oncologist gave me a 70% chance of 
surviving 10 years assuming I did chemo. If not, then only 50%. 5% of that risk was death 
due to non-cancer issues which I took to mean heart attack or stroke.

Although I tolerated chemo much better than most, it still was highly unpleasant. I felt bad; 
I looked bad. But the dark thought treadmill in the middle of the night was the worst. 
How lucky were people not to have to face this!

Early in this blog, I said something stupid about how lucky the estrogen positive ladies
 were. If only I picked that cancer out at the cancer store instead of the one I got! Stupid, 
stupid stupid. I apologize to you all and there are unfortunately legions of you. I was feeling 
sorry for myself about the chemo ( 4 long, cold months!) and the increased death risk 
not helped by not only the popular press but scientific articles openning with 'lethal,
 non-curative, aggressive, non-treatable' etc. Meanwhile, if you look at the graph,
 five years out is not much different than 10 years out. And now they are 
recommending antiestrogens for that period of time, very unpleasant drugs that I don't need to take.

So what am I left with here. A mangled half- breast that is hard as a rock.
 A divot in my armpit making it difficult to shave. I still get stabbing pains in my ribs
 that take my breath away but not as often as I used to. I can't remember when
 it happened last. When it happens, I think bone mets but then the pain goes away. 
I assume it is neuropathic pain..damage to the nerve causing it to misfire for no reason.
 Taxol can do this along with radiation or even surgical  damage. Who knows?
 But it seems to be going away. I need to be checked out just once a year a
nd my next mammogram will be coded as 'screening' (meaning free in insurance lingo)
 versus'diagnostic' (meaning me paying thousands as we have a high deductible). 
I still will be nervous during these mammograms. New cancers can always pop up.

Already a sauna here at 8 in the morning. Dew point humidity and heat. I did my run 
dripping sweat for an hour even after a cold shower.

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