Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The story without the happy ending

Life after a cancer diagnosis is never normal again. You live waiting to see if the other shoe will drop. Some who think they are cured are not. They are told 'all clear' and it does not mean there is no cancer in their body. It means there is no cancer detected in their body. There is a big difference.

There is a big bandwagon going on to raise cancer awareness. Thank you it is raised. Especially the pink bandwagon. We all know about it. In some ways I am grateful for all the bandwagons that have raised awareness - people now talk about cancer.

But there is another side of cancer - those with metastatic cancer - meaning it has spread to another part of your body. When cancer is staged, they look at several signs, which vary based on the type of cancer you have. They look at things like size of the tumor, lymph node involvement, and spread of the disease. If your cancer has spread to another part of your body - it has metastasized.

Once cancer has metastasized, your life is different. You live from scan to scan - CT scans are common. They don't worry about a lifetime dose of radiation from CT scans because you already have cancer and your life time is already shortened.

Here are stories of several women who have metastatic breast cancer. The difference for them is they were diagnosed with cancer that has already spread. All cancer patients live with the fear their cancer will spread and they won't have a happy ending.

So why is so little money of the amount spent on cancer research spent on metastatic cancer? 5% is the number that I think is correct. Cancer spread is what we are concerned about. This is why cancer patients get so much follow up - to look for cancer spread or recurrence. This is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

2 comments:

Arla said...

Caroline, I read this nodding my head. You are nailing it right on. My cancer was not meta but I know several whose is and I wait, and hope and pray for them because it is all we can do. Life changes with cancer and you can choose to live or choose to die; everyone I know chooses to live and fights hard. And it then becomes an incorporated new way of life.

Wishing you good health my friend.
Arla

cyn said...

Thank you for this, Caroline.