I am not dead. I’m not dying. I’m not in hospice. I’m not getting palliative care. None of these things are happening. And what’s more, none of them are going to happen any time soon. See, the cancer is no longer detectable. There is no measurable amount of cancer in my body. I had a full body bone scan last week and it came back with the incredible news that the cancer is still not winning. The cancer, that had spread from my breast to my spine, is not there any more. The mets on my spine are gone. No more mets have grown. The treatments have all worked and continue to work.
If you google the prognosis for Stage IV Breast Cancer, also known as Metastatic Breast Cancer, you will read the median survivorship is twenty-six months. This means twenty-six months out from diagnosis, as many women are dead from the disease as remain alive. If you read further, you would know the five year mortality rate is 93% and the ten year mortality rate is 98%.
I was diagnosed in June of 2011. Twenty-six months was September for me. This September was the tenth anniversary of my first heart attack. It was also my birthday. I turned forty-four. I had a party, a big party, the first big party I’ve hosted since June of 1984 when I invited 100 kids to my house for an end of school party and not one person showed.
People showed up for my party. I even had a friend who flew in just for the event. People ate and drank and sat around the fire pit and told jokes and generally enjoyed themselves. People I wasn’t sure would get along, got along. I don’t think anyone left hungry or thirsty. My toilet didn’t break down, a major concern since I am the only person living in the suburbs with only one bathroom. It was an excellent experience, so excellent I’m already itching to do my next one.
I can’t believe I made it. I can’t believe I’m actually not dead. I don’t even have the prospect of death looming over me. It is amazing. I know that one day the news the scan brings won’t be good. I know one day the cancer will return. But for now, it hasn’t. Now, I can begin recovering from the two and half years of treatment I have endured. I can make plans. I can sleep, finally. I can sleep and I can dream and I can think and write and plan and cook and feast and celebrate and make new friends and maybe even love. I can do all these things.
How many people do you know who are under the age of fifty and have survived years of physical and mental abuse, multiple heart attacks, strokes, debilitating injuries AND end stage cancer? Me. You know me. I have survived all of it. The bastards did not win.
Life is amazing. Enjoy yours. If you aren’t enjoying it, change it. Have parties. Go to other’s parties. Use the good dishes. Take care of your self. Snuggle. Be kind. Life is short.