Five Years

September 11th, here we are again. A date that is impossible to overlook on our calendars. That date became etched in our brains back in 2001, and became extra awful (as if it needed to become so) for me in 2012, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a month after my 28th birthday.

So here we are again, another cancerversary, another trip around the sun. This one is a biggie, too: five years. When cancer stats talk about rates of long-term survival, they typically are talking about people who live beyond five years. It’s thought that after that point, your risk of biting the big one continues to drop and you can rest a little easier. Obviously there are all sorts of problems with measuring survival like this, as breast cancer can and does recur many years down the road. So it’s not really a clear indicator of triumph. But it’s the closest thing we’ve got, so for now, I’ll take it. Five years, I’m still here. Has a nice ring to it.

I wish I could say I’ve put it all behind me and never think about the big C anymore, but that would be a lie, and no one likes a liar.

I still have the occasional scare, one of which occurred early in my pregnancy that completely derailed me. The stakes have become infinitely higher now that I have my little baby to think about. Before there were all sorts of things that sucked about the possibility of death. Big time. But now that I’m a mom, I can’t even allow my brain to go there. It’s too much. So when something scary pops up, and my mind is forced to go there… it ain’t pretty. And I hate that I still have to live with these terrifying possibilities. I know so many young women who have died of breast cancer, I’ve lost count. Many of them gone in the past year. What makes me luckier than them? Why should my ending be any different? These questions burn inside of me, no matter how hard I might try to put out the fire. But fortunately, I have the most amazing little distraction to keep me occupied and prevent me from obsessing over my worst fears all day long.

And speaking of that distraction, he pretty much takes up all of my minutes and hours of the day, as babies tend to do. So I don’t have much time to flesh out deep thoughts about what this day means to me. I’m too busy feeding and changing diapers and participating in tickle fights and fits of laughter. And really, when it comes down to it, that’s what this day means. It means everything. Because I have him.

Five years, I’m still here.

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8 thoughts on “Five Years

  1. Congrats Stephanie. I am also 5 years down that bumpy line. Your little man is so handsome and has a gorgeous momma. All if the very best to you.

  2. Hi Steph,

    Just read your blog and wanted you to know how much it resonates with me. I, too, am a 5-year breast cancer survivor (I hate that word, but the only other phrase I can think of to replace it is: reluctant participant).

    I wrote a blog (https://atruejourney.com/) after I finished treatment but don’t find much time either to write. I’m also a new mom to a 10-month old girl. I’m grateful every day to be her mom and to be here to enjoy life’s daily interactions and moments of joy with her.

    Thank you for writing your blog and putting into words how it feels to be a young woman who has gone through treatment for breast cancer. I appreciate you!

    Be well. Stacey

    On Monday, September 11, 2017, pass me another cupcake wrote:

    > Steph posted: “September 11th, here we are again. A date that is > impossible to overlook on our calendars. That date became etched in our > brains back in 2001, and became extra awful (as if it needed to become so) > for me in 2012, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a ” >

  3. Stephanie – Congratulations! Every year “in the clear” is a milestone and worthy of celebration, but 5 years is a big one! I celebrate 10 years next year and there WILL be a party! The best advice given to me was “focus on the facts, not the fantasy”. Whenever my mind would creep into that anxiety-ridden place, I would remember that right now I’m healthy and I’m doing what is in my control to make sure I stay that way.

    Plus you have a really adorable baby to focus on and that is the world’s best distraction. (Great hair on that little guy. Looks like he got that from you!)
    Take care,
    Teri

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