5 Years–So What Now?

What the heck does it really mean?

During the past week’s headlines regarding the fraud allegations I filed against my former boss (a big WAHOO for auditors), I realized I passed the five-year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis.  For five years I’ve been asked  “How many years? ” I’ll reply “Two,” “Four,” etc.  Okay, now I’m at five years post diagnosis, and what’s the big deal?  I don’t feel any different.  I’m not less scared that a recurrence will happen.  I still look the same.  No doctor called to congratulate me.   Now that I have time to sit and digest this little tidbit, I’m curious.  Someone once told me that if I lived to the five-year mark then my odds of developing cancer are the same as someone who never had cancer.  But, I’ve had cancer. . . .  Someone said I’m cured.  Really, then why am I still taking Aromasin?  Why am I still having scans? So, I survived five years, now what?  Is there another magic number I need to meet?

According to the National Cancer Institute:

The 5-year survival rate indicates the percentage of people who are alive 5 years after their cancer diagnosis, whether they have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer, are free of disease, or are having treatment. Five-year survival rates are used as a standard way of discussing prognosis as well as a way to compare the value of one treatment with another. It does not mean that a patient can expect to live for only 5 years after treatment or that there are no cures for cancer.  Blah, blah, blah.

According to Komen,

It is important to keep in mind that relative survival compares survival rates between women with breast cancer to women in the general population. For example, the five-year relative survival for stage II breast cancer is 92 percent. This means that women with stage II breast cancer are, on average, 92 percent as likely as women in the general population to live five beyond their diagnosis. Women with stage 0 (DCIS) or stage I breast cancer are just as likely as women in the general population to live five more years. As with overall survival, these rates are averages and vary depending on each person’s diagnosis and treatment. Blah, blah, blah.

I could go one and one with what I’ve found re:  five-year survival rate, five-year mark, five years after cancer diagnosis, etc.  I really don’t (but I kind of do) understand why this five-year anniversary is important.  Or maybe it really isn’t.

You tell me: what the heck does the five-year mark mean to you?

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sue
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 23:43:07

    I am glad you are past the five year mark, but other than it means you do not have any fast growing cancer left in your body, I’m not sure why five years is the “magic number.” I hope you continue to do well and are around for many years to come.

    Reply

  2. JulieD
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 13:53:12

    So what now? I don’t know, you get to answer that. 🙂 So glad to have connected with you on twitter and hope things get better for you re: the old boss thing

    Reply

    • Karma Per Diem
      Aug 08, 2011 @ 13:55:10

      Julie–you are so sweet and I am grateful to you for your kindness. I to am so glad we connected on twitter and feel like if we lived close to each other you would be like a kid sister!

      Reply

      • JulieD
        Aug 09, 2011 @ 09:32:17

        I love that! Did you know your kid sister got carded the other day for lottery tickets? LOL 😀 You’re so sweet for saying nice things, you’re so sweet too and I love that twitter brought us together. Keep on moving and do what you want to do, I love to hear about what you’re doing on your blog. 😀

      • Karma Per Diem
        Aug 09, 2011 @ 09:35:12

        Carded?!! Sweet mother of pearl! That’s awesome. Sometimes, when I wear my sunglasses…. oh wait, that doesn’t happen to me anymore!

  3. Stacey
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 09:36:51

    Hi Lisa, it’s strange to say, “congratulations,” but that’s what I feel like doing. I’m not sure either what it means in the great scheme of things other than you’re still here and that’s the important thing. I’m glad your here.

    Reply

  4. Joyce
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 10:50:11

    I understand that you are never going to stop worrying, but five years is a reason to celebrate! Also the fact that you are taking care of yourself and getting the checkups is assurance that you should continue to stay healthy. You have more spunk and grace than anyone I know. When I’m around you, I it’s easy to forget that you have been through such hard times. Then I feel bad for not expressing more concern. Love you!

    Reply

  5. Janet Taber
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 09:44:27

    I have not been in your place so cannot really comment on what it means, except as an outsider. I know I’d be thankful for five years, when I’m sure I’d have wondered if I’d get there. But I’d also not expect an epiphany….”Tada–five years and all the worries can now be safely and totally left behind.”

    It seems to me that the best way to live life is one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 in the Message: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

    It may not be cancer but we all have bad things to contend with. Scary things, that could, if allowed, rob us of the joy of today. The older I get, the more I realize that EVERYONE has issues like this. I am not very good at it, but I try to live one day at a time and to have faith that whatever comes my way, I’ll have to grace to deal with it.

    I hope you feel that grace today, overpowering other feelings, in the midst of the things that would rob you of your joy, be it cancer or other issues.

    Reply

    • Karma Per Diem
      Aug 08, 2011 @ 12:17:45

      You’re so right, it’s not like suddenly I’m at five years and no more worries. I am trying my best to live life one day at a time and relish those good moments when they occur and to stop dwelling on what could occur, but I’m a work in progress!

      Reply

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