Five Year Breast Cancer Survivor – What that means

I’m here!!!! Recurrence is THE worst fear for those who’ve battled breast cancer, and five years is an important milestone.  I was completely caught off guard when I heard those dreaded words, ‘you have stage 2 breast cancer.’ When you’re given a cancer diagnosis, the immediate goal is to remove the cancer, and complete treatments to reduce the risk of recurrence. Each year that passes, reduces your recurrence risk. Zero, by the way, simply isn’t possible.

I have mixed emotions as I vividly recall the painful memories and many surgeries from that difficult time. I’ve lived sixty loooong months with the prospect of leaving my boys without a momma. Wondering if my coin was going to fall on heads or tails at each appointment.

The fact I’m still here is simply luck.

taking care of mom with breast cancer
Turns out my sweet boys are the best nurses in town!

The past 5 years I’ve heard it all from well-meaning friends: You’re amazing!  You’re so strong!  You beat it!  You kicked Cancer’s Ass!  And while I smile and acknowledge the support my dear friend is trying to portray, none of these statement are true. I’m not amazing, I was strong because I had no other option, and I certainly didn’t beat cancer. Cancer is an unpredictable sneaky arsehole who makes up its own rules.

breast cancer survivor deciding whether or not to do chemotherapy

So I’m torn… do I feel joy? Relief? Caution? Achievement? The truth is I don’t want to ‘tempt fate’ by feeling too confident at this milestone. I’ve decided to honor how my life changed in such a drastic fashion five years ago.

10 reflections from a Five Year Breast Cancer Survivor.

  1. I still don’t know what to say when people ask about my health. What most people don’t realize is  just as cancer tends to keep its arrival on the down-low, it’s not real chatty about whether it’s completely left the building either.
  2. I”m checking off as many bucket list items as possible. As quickly as possible. The upside is I’ll spend the rest of my life doing really cool stuff.
  3. My life is in two parts. The part before cancer and the part after cancer. When I was diagnosed I was told it was the ‘good’ kind and this would be a mere blip in my life. WRONG! It’s the biggest deal of my life and my kids lives. Blip?!?!
  4. My gift from cancer is I’ve learned to prioritize things and people in my life differently, and live with gratitude every day.
  5. I’m stronger now than ever before. In order to live I found massive amounts of strength, determination and fierce resilience. That’s now filed away in case I need it again.breast cancer survivor
  6. When I hear of people dying from cancer I literally can’t breathe for a second. I’m painfully aware of the unpredictability of this disease and it’s overwhelming. I can’t help but think why them and not me.
  7. I’ll need cancer related surgeries and testing for the rest of my life. My official health status is ‘no evidence of disease’ (NED) which is a pretty way of saying I might still have cancer but not know about it.
  8. The side effects of the drugs I take daily, and the trauma of this experience sits mostly in silence. It’s less painful for me that way.
  9. I strive to find balance every day and not think every lingering cough, headache or back pain is from cancer cells trying to invade my body again.
  10. Sometimes I lie awake worrying I won’t see my boys get married or hold my grandchildren.

Cancer opened many doors for me. I write articles. I give talks. I work to support the breast cancer community. I hold those warriors tight who come to me with the same fear and despair in their eyes. I am a proud champion of women.

Meet my brave warrior sister, Kelly! Isn’t she beautiful!

Now I’m a five year breast cancer survivor I realize I’m a different person. Perhaps with a massive amount of luck I can live a long life. I’m particularly grateful to those who have walked this path with me and continue to walk with me. Those who washed my hair, fed my children, and told me I was beautiful the entire time. Even on days I most certainly was not beautiful. The only way forward for me is to celebrate every single day I’m here on earth, and look forward to the tomorrows. Dear God I hope there are many.

Love your family and friends, Raise Your Glass, be happy, and ladies, never stop checking your boobies.

Are you a five year breast cancer survivor or do you know one? Let me know by leaving a comment below and joining me on Instagram and Twitter!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising feral wolves teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hermien | 27th Mar 20

    I’m a five year surviver as well! 🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼

    • Samantha | 28th Mar 20

      Congratulations to you too! Sending you lots of health!

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