Friday, October 24, 2008
When Are You "Done"?
Now I know the answer. Because YOU ARE NEVER DONE. I'm realizing that this isn't just something to get through and forget about. Cancer is now part of my life. Not a chapter, but my daily life from now on. Why? Because it changes everything. Every day I now have to decide what to eat, thinking about what helps to lower my risk of a recurrence. I have to change my routine so I work out more, because research shows that walking briskly 5x/week for 30 minutes lowers my risk of a recurrence by 40%. Not just for a while, but for the rest of my life. I have to keep abreast of breast cancer research, because one of these days (and I believe it will be sooner rather than later), we're going to have, as a society, an Aha Moment when someone figures out what's been causing this. As every new gene mutation is discovered, I'll have to get tested. Because of the surgery I had, I'm at some risk for lymphedema for the next 10 years, so have to always wear gloves when I wash dishes and tell the woman giving me a manicure to be sure not to cut my cuticles because I can't risk the infection in my left arm. For the next 5-10 years I'll be on Tamoxifen, a drug that protects my cells from my naturally-produced estrogen, since the estrogen could fuel a recurrence. I'll be dealing with the side effects of the Tamoxifen for possibly the next 10 years. And the list goes on and on...
So now I know why the women who have finished treatment still attend the YWBCG meetings. Because breast cancer is still part of their daily lives and they are still fitting it into their busy lives, every day.