This week marks four years that I have been living with metastatic cancer.
The most remarkable thing about this (well, OK, maybe not the MOST remarkable), is that I completely forgot my own Cancerversary! A dear friend, who happened to be with me the evening of my diagnosis but now lives far away, emailed me and reminded me! For the last three years, I have been counting the years very carefully, having a minor celebration with my family each time I hit another year. So imagine how shocked I was to realized that I hadn't even given it a thought this year! Just goes to show how life goes on after awhile, with the regular cancer treatments becoming as normal as dental cleanings and the side effects just a part of who you are now.
The REALLY most remarkable thing is that I am still here and doing so amazingly well that I couldn't even be bothered to remember such a significant date in my life. When I was diagnosed, my doctor, wisely, would not give me an expected life span. I later learned that only 20% of Stage IV Breast Cancer Patients are alive after 5 years. Now, I don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched, but I am quite hopeful that a year from now I will be a part of that 20%. Did I mention that patients who receive an Omaya Reservoir (a brain port) survive, on average, 28 days after receiving it? Mine was put in two years ago this month.
Clearly, there is more than medical technology (although I certainly don't discredit that!) going on here. As anyone who has read this blog for awhile well knows, the day I learned I was metastatic (and gravely ill) I was given a prayer card for Don Alvaro del Portillo, the successor to Saint Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei. I began asking for his intercessory prayers that day and most every day since. During the past four years he has not only become Venerable, but will be beatified in 2014, as Pope Francis recently announced. And the Vatican doesn't even know about me yet! Since receiving that card I have read all about his life and have read many things he wrote. I have no doubt he has God's ear and has been whispering pleas for me all this time. Thank you, Lord, for listening!
And to those many, many beautiful souls that have been petitioning God on my behalf, either directly or through the intercession of others, I thank you for the hammock of peace that you have placed me in during this time of ups and downs. Prayer works, it really does, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for every prayers said on my behalf. I pray for you, too.
I also pray for the 80% that will not survive five years. I am well aware that these are fallen soldiers in this battle, from whom many things are learned that benefit those of us still living with cancer.
Ironically, I am writing this from the infusion room where I sit receiving my every-three-week Kadcyla and my Intrathecal (in the brain port) Herceptin. The advances made during the last ten years in cancer treatment are allowing people like me to live a longer time with a better quality of life. What I am really hoping is not so much that I beat the odds, but that the odds change significantly for Stage IV patients.
From where I sit (literally, in my infusion chair), I am very hopeful for the future!