HAPPY NINE YEAR CANCERVERSARY TO ME
Happy Friday and happy nine-year “cancerversary” to me! I am so blessed to be healthy and alive! I can’t believe it’s been nine years. In some ways, it seems like yesterday, and in other ways, it seems like it never happened. For those new to my blog, I am a Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor. What is TNBC, you ask? TNBC is invasive breast cancer that does not have estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors, hence why it is called triple-negative. It is usually more aggressive, harder to treat, and more likely to come back than hormone receptor-positive or HER-positive cancers. TNBC does not respond to hormonal therapy medications or medications that target the HER2 protein. Only 10-15% of all breast cancers are triple-negative, and statistically, it is more common in women younger than 40, black women, and women with a BRCA1 mutation.
I did not fit into any of those statistics. I was in my early 50’s, am so white that I am almost purple, and did not have the BRCA1 mutation. What I do want to get across here is that TNBC is breast cancer that does not discriminate in age. I have heard of women as young as 20 years old and women in their 70s who have been diagnosed, but it seems like it happens more often in the 30-40-year-old group. That being said, all of us must be vigilant about self-exams and getting mammograms. When I was diagnosed, my cancer was found during a mammogram that detected a calcification that didn’t look normal. My actual tumor was hiding in the duct, and when I had my biopsy, it was tough to locate. That’s why staying on top of mammograms is so important. My treatment after diagnosis was a double mastectomy, four months of(dose-dense) chemo, and six weeks of radiation. With TNBC, you don’t get a choice. You have to hit it hard because it is so aggressive. I was stage 2 with a high proliferation rate.
So, here I am, healed and healthy after nine years! Do I still think about it? Yes! If you’ve had cancer, you can’t help but think about it, but I don’t dwell on it. In fact, I look at it as if I was given an enormous opportunity. Breast cancer gave me a platform to (hopefully) help other women going through it. I love helping other women navigate the breast cancer journey. My great friend sent me a book called 365 Days of Healing (devotional), which changed my thoughts on healing. One of the devotions gave me an “ah-ha” moment. The author said that if we look at the passage from the Lord’s Prayer where it says “on earth as it is in heaven,” we should take that to heart. There is NO sickness in heaven. Therefore there should be no sickness on earth. I have clung to that thought!
Today is a day of reflection for me and celebrating life and all of the blessings I have been given. I have watched people I know pass away from breast cancer or have it come back to fight it all over again. I would tell everyone to enjoy each day and celebrate even the most minor things because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. One last PSA…please tell the younger women in your families to check themselves as well. As I said above, TNBC does not discriminate in age. I never worried about breast cancer in my 30s, but it is happening so much more now, and I personally believe the environment has something to do with that.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you, who have supported me for so long and followed my journey. I never wanted this blog to be about breast cancer, but I want to acknowledge it because it is part of my story. I am always here to help anyone that gets a diagnosis. God bless all of you!
Have a great day and a July 4th weekend! Stay safe and healthy! xx
Photos: Beckley & Co