Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cancerversary?

I want to count in decades, not years. After thyroid cancer in 1980, I was pleased when I could count cancerversaries (if the word did exist back then) in decades, not years. I was 26.5 years out and whoopsie a new cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer that time. I was less than thrilled to start counting over.

But now I can say I am 32.5 years out from thyroid cancer and 6.5 years out from breast cancer. Those are nice numbers.

People quote five year survival rates as if they were Gospel. But they aren't. I learned recently that five year survival rates were started in the 1930s for blood cancers. This timeline/goal quickly spread to other cancers and people started believing them.

But they really aren't true. A couple of examples are both breast cancer and thyroid cancer which can return at any time. So five years is good but not great. Thyroid cancer has been known to recur 30 and 40 years out.

Every person with cancer counts their years differently. Some celebrate their cancerversary with a big celebration and their five year date with as an epic event. For more on the five year dates and cancerversaries (which is just a weird word) you can read this very interesting article on how people celebrate and how we got to where we are. It was shared on FB by a friend who was marking his cancerversary and reaching out to those he knew who were in the same boat. I read it and enjoyed it.

But for now, I'll go back to counting decades and waiting.

PS if you do the math, I am really 37 years old as I stopped counting some time ago.

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