When does one begin to say they are a breast cancer survivor? I have finished the treatments. The medical profession has cut, poisoned and nuked the part of me that contained the psychotically rapid dividing cells known as cancer. I did survive that, with some scary moments of wondering involved. Or do I have to wait until the recommended five years of drug therapy is finished to declare "I made it!" If , that is, I do make it?
I don't want to be ridiculed at a cancer march or a run for the cure as they applaud the champions who beat this disease when I have yet to find out if indeed we did "get it all" or if there is some little piece that survived, starting to multiply some place else as we speak.
It's a very real concern. Worse than the nightmare about going to Sunday school without my underwear on.
I don't know what to trust anymore. My body let me down once. Will it do it again?
They say that one third of women with hormone dependant tumors (like mine) will have a recurrence. Better than half of those five years or more after surgery. Because I opted for the adjunct therapy (the chemo and radiation) combined with surgery my chance of the cancer coming back goes down. I think I'm at a 3-5% chance. It's still enough to make you worry. I've beaten lower odds before in the luck-less life lottery.
Saying you're a survivor implies the war is over but for me, the battle has just begun. This is going to be a life-long assault of learning and doing what I can to survive not just now, but for as many years as I can squeak out of this body.
So despite everything that's been done, I'm determined to keep the numbers on my side. It's a betting game with no guarantees and you must do what you can to help. Swallow large fish oil and Green Tea capsules (anti-oxidants), stuff in the blueberries by the handful, drink the green spirulina/algae with your nose pinched, drag your butt to the swimming pool, fill those lungs with good clean fresh air, drink water not wine and whatever you do ...don't sweat the small stuff.
Possibly when I'm on my last breath, when I have lived a much longer life, I will finally declare myself a breast cancer survivor. Until then...Game On!