Saturday, December 31, 2016

5 YEARS AND COUNTING

(Photo © TheBigCandMe)
It's been a good long while since I've updated this blog (as you may have noticed!), and while I think about writing often, it never seems to happen. Today, faced with a new year, I have mere hours left to post an update. This will be my last post in 2016. And also my first. 

I guess I didn't write much in 2016!

That doesn't mean nothing happened this year. Quite the contrary. Plenty of good happened (and a bit of bad, too).
The short of it is, my health is good (knock on wood!), but my mind is distracted. I seem to have run out of time to write about it all. Much of the free time that I used to devote to cancer-related activities has been replaced with camera-related activities. And that is a welcome and grateful reprieve!
 
I
have been busy photographing my dog Corrie for her Instagram page — yes, she has her own IG account, with far more followers than me! You can find her at
@catchingupwithcorrie. I've also been traveling and chasing the view for my own Instagram account (@chasing_the_view).

I also try to keep up with my fellow blogging buddies, but in that regard I have fallen woefully behind. I haven't participated in the #BCSM Twitter chat in months

I keep a running list of my fav cancer bloggers under the headline "RENN'S BIG C BLOGGING PALS" on the right side of my blog page. Recently I combed through the list and sadly had to move more bloggers over to the "IN MEMORIUM" heading. This happens. Every. Single. Year. Please remember Dee Sutter, Jody SchogerJoyce Croker, Sherri Fillipo, Maria Fowler, Tami Boehmer. And too many others.

I also had an anniversary this year. (Notice I didn't say I celebrated an anniversary. I merely noticed one.) I hit my five-year anniversary post-cancer. My cancerversary.

SO WHAT'S A CANCERVERSARY?
The crux of all the celebrating that surrounds these "cancerversaries" is that we're happy to be alive after a cancer diagnosis. And we mark that time by counting the years post-diagnosis. This makes some people want to throw a party; others (like me) want to just curl up by the fire and forget the whole damn thing ever happened. (As if that were possible.) 

A Cancerversary is marked at various times by each individual. Some people denote the date they first learned they had cancer (aka diagnosis date), while others mark their surgery date. Some people mark the milestone in meaningful ways; others choose to ignore it completely.

Like many others, I have mixed emotions about celebrating the day I learned I had cancer. (In my case, December 8th.) I don't feel like giving props to a moment that so drastically altered my life. (And yes, I was one of the unlucky ones whose doctor called them over the phone to tell them the news.) I do make note of February 3rd each year, though, because that is the day I got the cancer outThough along with the cancer went my breasts. Again, not something I want to celebrate. But if I had to choose a cancerversary, that would be the one.

(Courtesy American Cancer Society)
THE COLD, HARD STATS
Who lives and who doesn't post-cancer is a question for the ages and is anybody's guess. All we have are averages. At right is a chart from the American Cancer Society showing the average stats for breast cancer patients based on their stage and type of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer, and according to the chart I had a 93% chance of being alive five years after my diagnosis date. (Looking at it this way, I do have something to celebrate.) But I also had a 7% chance of not being alive at my five-year anniversary.

With some types of cancer, the longer you go disease-free, the better your odds of remaining that way. Not so with breast cancer, which can recur at any time.


It's important to remember that the percentages listed in this chart are just averages. Some people diagnosed at Stage 0, 1, 2 or 3 will die before five years have been reached because their cancer will have metastasized (i.e., spread to other parts of the body), while others who are diagnosed at Stage 4 defy the odds and live many years — 5, 10, 20+ years. It's a complex, complicated enigma, this cancer game. 

SO WHO IS NED?
Many factors are at play when it comes to cancer, and it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen to any individual patient. We all hope to live a full life post-diagnosis, and the five-year mark is a magical carrot that we aim for from the moment we begin treatment. But despite what you read or hear that certain types of cancer are curable, this isn't exactly true. There is no cure for cancer. There is only No Evidence of Disease (NED). 

NED and I have been dancing together now for almost six years, and I would like our relationship to continue! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR
And on that note, I wish you a very happy New Year, and strength to meet whatever it may bring. I appreciate you still stopping by to read these words, however infrequent. And I promise to blog more in 2017, to talk about hormonal therapy, the Breast Cancer Index test, compartmentalizing cancer and so much more that I have learned over these past six years. 

Wishing you peace and love and warmth in this season of mixed emotions.

 

14 comments:

  1. So excited to see you blogging again Renn! Though it's a great sign that you are far enough away from cancer to no longer feel the need to write about it so often, we really do miss hearing from you in the blogosphere. Hoping to hear a lot more from you in 2017 xxx

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    1. Thanks Marie! It's good to be back! Cheers to you for a good 2017 ahead. And thank you so much for including my post in your weekly roundup!! xoxo

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  2. HI Renn, it's nice to see you blogging again... It's good that life is keeping you busy in other ways not concerning cancer. I'm happy to hear that you are 5+ years cancer free... Happy New Year, I wish you love and joy ♡

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    1. Happy New Year, Launna! Wishing you the best, and thanks for stopping by to say hi! xo

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  3. Renn,
    I've missed you and your writing and so glad to read this today. Naturally, after some time, I began to fear the worst! FIVE years is totally awesome and I am very happy for you. I, like you, fell off the blogging wagon. Even though my blog was not cancer specific I just tired of writing. This February 7th will make 10 years for me and I am SO very grateful. I lived long enough to become a grandmother one year ago. I love that you've devoted your energies to photography. That's just wonderful. I wish you continued health and happiness in the year ahead...hugs from Holly

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    1. Hi Holly! Good to see you! Wow, 10 years is awesome, it is inspiring for folks to read those years! Congrats on becoming a grandmother, a completely new phase of life! Enjoy, and I hope to see you more in the blogosphere. PS I understand what you mean when you see someone fall off the blogging radar. That's why it's important to post every now and then. That I can manage! Happy New Year and continued good health to you! xo

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  4. I have missed reading your blog posts, so I hope to see more of them in 2017! Also, I'm a big fan of your Instagram accounts. You're not only a talented writer, you're a talented photographer too! Thank you for the updates. Wishing you peace, love and warmth, too, and of course, continued good health in the New Year and beyond. xo

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    1. Thanks so much, Nancy. I hope to stay in writing gear! Much health and happiness in 2017, my friend!

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  5. I can't believe its been 5 years!!!!!!
    Way to go RENN!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

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  6. So glad to see a new post, Renn! Glad you're still here. Glad I'm still here. Hope we have many more years of being 'here.' xoxo, Kathi

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    1. I'm glad we are still here too, Kathi! Thanks for stopping by and here's to many, many more posts for us both! :-)

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  7. Dear Renn: I found your blog by accident, and I want to thank you so much for writing. Your words always resonate with me, and I turn to them for education and so that I don't feel alone. I was diagnosed with stage 2/3 breast cancer just before Christmas 2015, and I am due to have my treatment start with surgery on Feb 27th. I think I should be far more worried about my situation than I feel? Right now I'm so much more worried about how my family is going to deal once I'm having to focus on my recovery. Maybe it's because I have been blessed with such good health for so long. I am 49 years old and so happily married for the second time with a beautiful teenage girl and 2 stepkids. I am petite, but I run Spartan obstacle course races and crank out 17 pull-ups in a row. I don't really know how to feel or react to all of this except by being positive and reassuring everyone around me. Thank you for your blog.

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    1. Glad you stopped by, So Blest, and pleased to hear the blog is of help to you. Getting diagnosed with cancer is a crazy thing, and there is no one way to feel. Being positive is a good thing, but it's draining to put on a happy face for others when it's not always how you are feeling inside. It's OK to be mad or sad; it's OK for others to see your true feelings. That is healthy, and healing. Wishing you strength during your surgery. Hang in there. It does get better!

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