I’m here today to share some great news. Last week I hit my 5 Year Survivor mark! What a milestone! I do feel blessed to be here, in this place, standing in the sunlight of cancer-freedom! The odds were against me being here. Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is not a kind and gentle cancer. The odds moving forward aren’t really much better but I’m confident in my ability to survive again!
Five years ago I was given a 90% lifetime risk of recurrence. I don’t think that has really changed after 5 years (but I’ll be sure to asked my Oncologist when I see her next!). Unlike other breast cancers where recurrence drops dramatically after the 5 year mark (75% of recurrence occurs in those first 5 years), IBC does not. Depending on which study you read, the overall percentage of women who reach 5 years survival is somewhere between 52% and 56%. That is not necessarily Disease Free Survival (DSF) like mine. These figures include people like our own WhyMommy who are living with metastatic disease (Metavivors), but living nonetheless. Still, in the not-so-distant past women with IBC survived only an average of 18 months after diagnosis. We’ve come a long way, Baby!
Yet there is still so far to go… Survival rates for Inflammatory Breast Cancer at 5 years is roughly 54% (I’ll split the difference in the studies). 10 year survival rates are 35% and drops to 28% at 15 years. Staggering! Only 28 of every 100 Inflammatory Breast Cancer patients will live 15 years beyond their diagnosis. These are horrible figures for a young woman’s disease!
On to better news… I celebrated my AWESOME MILESTONE with a big party and a tattoo to commemorate!
The pink ribboned butterfly represents my metamorphosis from cancer patient to cancer survivor. The dandelion holds the wishes for my cancer sisters’ complete recoveries. The floating dandelion seeds are for each of my years of survival (there are supposed to be 5 but I need it touched up). The white (pearl) bird is for my Grammy who recently died of lung cancer. The fuchsia one is for Andrea (Punk Rock Mommy) – my first IBC loss. And the pink bird is for Sarah of Sprucehill whose passing hit me so very hard. I hope to add many, many more floating seeds over the years and no more birds. Ever.
More news: I’ve added a link on the HELP page for a Care Calendar. My gf is using it for meal sign ups. It’s easy peasy and it’s FREE!
Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer