Today is my seventh anniversary of living with metastatic breast cancer. Every year on August 20th I stop to celebrate and reflect on what it means to live with cancer every day, ALL THE TIME.
Seven years ago I fell and broke my leg. Turned out the cancer had come back and was in my bones from the back of my skull to my hips. I remember lying in the hospital bed scared out of my mind that I was going to die soon, because I had asked my oncologist what the odds were. He said fifty per cent of women diagnosed with mets die within a year.
Well, it's been seven years. I have beaten all the odds and outlived all the predictions and I am still here, snuggling with my hubby, singing and dancing, cooking wonderful meals, walking the dogs, and generally living the good life.
I've been very lucky. I know that seems like a strange thing to say about cancer. But my cancer has responded pretty well to all the anti-hormonal and radiation treatments I've taken. I entered full menopause too early. I had to retire from my profession on medical disability. Cancer cheated us out of becoming parents. That was the price I had to pay to live.
Some days I don't really think about cancer. I just live. Those days are a blessing, to be normal like everyone else. Other days my back hurts from spinal mets, I pop some vicodin, and cancer is too present. Without seeming too much like Pollyanna, I have been able to live a reasonably good life with advanced cancer. Hard to believe....
This past year I had two hospitalizations, in October and May. They caused me to rethink what was happening to me. Right now I am on the last of the anti-hormonals and still don't know how well this drug, Megace, is working. What will my next options be? If I take more chemo, will it be as rough as the four rounds of 5-FU that practically killed me?
It's the not knowing that I find so tough. I realize that none of us really knows what the future will bring. That shit happens, like Rik's fall from the plum tree just two days ago. And yet there is grace as well. Rik walked away from that fall with one laceration and a stiff neck when the outcome could have been so much worse. I am still here, despite all the odds.
And so I am celebrating tonight with some of our closest friends. We'll eat homemade cardamom ice cream, chocolate cake and salted caramel coulis. We'll take a "family" photo to remember my mets-iversary. We'll drink champagne, spit in cancer's eye and toast l'chaim -- to life!