Five Years

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I’ve said it here before. I love when I struggle to write a piece, and in doing so, I learn something about myself. I’ve been writing and re-writing this post for days. Last week was my five year “cancerversary,” and I felt like I should write some sort of celebratory post for the occasion. While it’s not true for most breast cancer patients whose breast cancer can still come back ten, fifteen, even twenty years later, once a triple negative patient gets to five years past diagnosis with no mets, the risk for recurrence is negligible. (The “silver lining” of a super aggressive tumor is that it can’t lie in wait too long. If it’s coming back, it’s usually fast and hard.) Translation: I probably won’t die from breast cancer. Seems celebration-worthy, no? And yet, there is no celebration in my heart. A fellow triple negative friend brought me a lovely orchid and a card last week.  “…it means so much, yet nothing at the same time.”  She got it completely.

After writing several different versions of the post and hating every single one, and I think I finally figured out why I can’t celebrate. It’s survivor’s guilt. Why am I the one who gets to live while others die? I never obsessed over dying, I really never gave it much thought. I think making it this far, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I probably won’t die from breast cancer. Still sounds like something to celebrate, not to “come to terms with.” But my heart has broken over and over again watching friends die of the disease we share. It’s so hard be happy for myself as I grieve for my friends, knowing that 113 women and men will die of metastatic breast cancer in this country every single day.

So, there’s no big five year party for me. I’m healthy and things look good. But maybe let’s not make a big deal out of it. It’s hard to celebrate, knowing how many won’t get that chance.

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