A “Typical” Cancer Diagnosis
I read somewhere (unfortunately, I threw out the magazine where I read this in one of my rare “cleaning out” moments of the New Year) that a typical cancer diagnosis eats up about a year of a person’s life by the time all is said and done.
Really? Is that all?
I’d like to ask what is a typical cancer diagnosis or experience anyway?
I’m not sure what typical means exactly. In this case I think it refers to the amount of time beginning at initial diagnosis and ending upon completion of initial treatment(s).
If you happen to be one of the unlucky a-typical persons living with metastatic breast cancer, well, forget about it. You will never be typical again.
My case is not classified as typical either, so I’m not sure where that leaves me…
My oncologist often reminds me (or I should say, used to remind me as he has since quit on me) of this when we discuss BRCA stuff. In fact at my last appointment when we were discussing my BRCA status, he said to me, “Do you realize just how rare your case really is?”
If we weren’t discussing such a serious topic as BRCA and cancer, being called rare might be a good thing.
In this case, it was no compliment!
BRCA gene mutations account for roughly 10% of breast cancer cases and some say it’s even less than this.
Regardless of the statistic, I don’t actually believe anyone’s cancer experience is typical.
Also, I don’t think cancer “eats” up a year. It steals it. And it steals way more than a year, even if you’re typical
Time is quite literally taken from you. It was supposed to be your time. Your life. But somewhere in there, cancer sneaks in like a thief in the night and takes bits and pieces of your former life and self. And sometimes it seems like it’s all a bit of a crap shoot just how much time and how much of your life cancer gets to take from you.
You often wonder if you “caught the culprit” early enough or have put it in its place for good. You spend way more than a year diagnosing, treating, recovering, picking up the pieces, adjusting and then looking over your shoulder more frequently than you’d like to admit.
You never really know if and when the “theft” is completely over. You spend at least moments of the rest of your life on guard watching and waiting for the “cancer criminal” who may or may not show up on your doorstep again.
You remain on guard wondering if you have done all the right things to keep the “thief” away for good.
You try to take better care of yourself by eating right and exercising. You go to appointments and have scans and tests when called for. You diligently try to take the drugs you are told will help in this mission despite their nasty side effects. You try not to worry or complain too much to your family about every little ache and pain you might get. You try to make adjustments to living in a body that sometimes doesn’t feel like yours at all. You try to just sleep at night and not think. You try really hard to not get labeled as paranoid or just down right annoying.
Yes, you learn to live again, but you remain on guard forever.
You wonder if you will be one of the “lucky” ones and just be typical.
You hope and pray you will be and feel guilty when others are not.
A typical cancer diagnosis eats up a year of a person’s life.
Hmm. If only…
How do you react to the phrase a “typical cancer diagnosis?”
What has cancer “stolen” from you?