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.