In 2005, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast. The best option for me was a mastectomy. My oncologist said, according to statistics, my chance of breast cancer recurrence was about twenty percent. I chose to concentrate on the eighty percent of no recurrence. After five years of perfect mammograms on my remaining breast, I was designated a “survivor.” I asked my oncologist the question every cancer patient has: “When can I stop worrying about recurrence?”
Her answer: “Never.”
Yesterday, I had my digital mammogram. Six years of perfect mammograms. Today, I was notified of the results: two spots on my left breast. I am scheduled for two biopsies next week. I’m trying to prepare myself for the bad news: cancer recurrence. All cancer patients do that. I’m also consoling myself. I’ve done everything I was supposed to do in the ensuring six years since my mastectomy to minimize my recurrence. I meditate to reduce stress. I walk for exercise. I eat organic foods, concentrating on foods that minimize inflammation in the body. Was it all for nothing? No. I don’t accept or believe that. These factors are why I feel great. If I do have a recurrence of breast cancer, I will fight it just as I did the first time around with the same tools.
All women are at risk for breast cancer. Most women who get breast cancer have no known risks. Approximately 193,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 41,000 will die from the disease. Once again, I do not plan to be part of that statistic. But the answer of my oncologist to my question: “When can I stop worrying about recurrence?” rings in my ears.