Thursday, September 21, 2017

Four More Years! Four More Years!

No, this isn't about politics. This is about celebrating my 4 years survivor-versary last month!

Only in my wildest dreams could I imagine seeing this date. Thank you Jesus!

4 years! 

Here's the deal -- When I was diagnosed I had a 36% chance of recurrence (remember recurrence almost always means mets, and mets almost always mean death, especially for TNBC).

At four years out I'm down to just a 4% chance of recurrence. Each year after 4 years until 8 years means 1% less chance of recurrence, until it's 0% chance at 8 years.

To illustrate this point, here is a chart that I lifted from a cancer study. This shows how most (i.e. 90%) of my recurrence risk is behind me.

I should cite the study, but I lost the URL. You can just google "TNBC survival curve".

So say it with me... four more years! Four more years!

Speaking of blessings, my little warrior/chemo baby is almost 4.5 years old. I'm LOVING this age with her so much. She's so smart, fun, and funny. I thank God every day for her and the time I've been able to spend with her.

Love my girl 

One thing people don't talk much about is the mental toll of cancer. I'm almost as proud of myself for overcoming the daily anxiety as I am about beating cancer.

As my risk has gone down, my anxiety has gone down with it. I don't subscribe EVERY little thing to cancer anymore -- but it's never too far from my mind. Recently, I've been doing pretty intense Orange Theory workouts and my shoulder started hurting (on my cancer, lymph node removal, radiation side). I whipped myself into a panic that it was mets. As the pain has subsided over the past few days, I'm thinking it was likely a muscle pull (my muscles are MUCH tighter on my left side thanks to mastectomy + radiation).

If I think about all my "scares" in the past four years, I realize there has been a lot. I decided I'd list them all here to show other survivors that all pains and illness are NOT necessarily cancer. Here they all are, none of these turned out to be cancer so far, and most resolved on their own:
- 2013: Sore mid back (likely from pregnancy)
- 2013: Cough that persisted (from a virus)
- 2013: Ringing in ear (maybe from chemo or stress)
- 2013: Blurry vision (from chemo likely)
- 2013: Dizziness (from chemo/rads/stress likely)
- 2013: Sore spot on skull (no idea, resolved on own)
- 2013: Shortness of breath (from my giant tissue expanders pushing on my chest cavity)
- 2014: Sore lymph node spot (residual pain from surgery)
- 2014: Lump on right prophylactic mastectomy foob (ultra-sounded and determined to be fatty scar tissue)
- 2014: Sore rib (probably a pulled muscle, but then I kept pressing on it and made it worse)
- 2014: Bad lower back (from carrying my big baby)
- 2014: Cough that lasted 3 weeks (from a winter virus)
- 2015: Neck pain (from sleeping funny)
- 2015: Broken rib (from falling at football game)
- 2015: Walking pneumonia (from the broken rib)
- 2016: Lump on cancer side foob (felt by onco and determined to be fatty tissue, dissolved over time)
- 2016: Sciatica and lower back pain (x-ray showed slight disk degeneration, also resolved over time, was likely from carrying my big toddler plus lots of long international airplane flights for work)
- 2017: Lump on back of neck (biopsied by derm and was a cyst, not skin mets)
- 2017: Sore shoulder/left back (likely a muscle pull from crazy workouts)

The good news is that my "scares" have decreased a lot over time. I pray that one day I won't even consider cancer as the cause of an ache or illness.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year

It's 2017! A year I kind of never thought I'd see.

Elise is 3.5 years old and at an age where she is finally making real, lasting memories. Since before she was born I think about how long I'd have to make it for her to have memories of me. Morbid? Yes, but true.

Fall 2016

 It's been 3.5 years since my mastectomy/ I'm rounding the bend to it being  years since I was diagnosed. And I'm finally sliding down the steeper part of this survival curve.

TNBC Study Results

Since I never really expected to live this long I've been doing a lot of soul searching recently about what I really want from life. Like what do I really want from my career? If I can have more kids do I really want them? What about adoption? What kind of house should we buy? I guess kind of normal 30-something questions about life.

I did make a decision about one thing! After growing my hair out for 3 years I decided to stop and leave it at collarbone length. I realized it was one of my favorite lengths (and I've not had them all) and it's easy to maintain, so I decided to stop there.

Christmas 2016
It's 2017. Prayers for another healthy year are always appreciated.