TWO YEAR MILESTONE

This week was my TWO YEAR survivor milestone and 33rd birthday!  So let me start this blog post with a couple distinguishing points of reference regarding some cancer terminology. 

First, many people don’t know this but a survivor milestone is actually the anniversary from the date of one’s “diagnosis”.  You are considered a “survivor” even if you still have cancer.  The fact that you are “living” makes you a “survivor”.  I thought it would be measured from the time you were “cured”, but I guess there is no “cure” for cancer so you’re referred to as a “survivor” from the time you are diagnosed. 

Which brings me to another area of common question – the difference between cancer “cure” and cancer “remission”.  Doctors almost never use the term “cure”; rather, they usually talk about “remission”.  Complete remission means that there are no symptoms or signs that can be identified to indicate the presence of cancer.  However, even when someone is in remission, there may be microscopic cancer cells that cannot be identified by current techniques (e.g., mammogram, MRI).  This means that even if a person is in remission, they may, at some future time, experience a recurrence of their cancer. 

Doctors often refer to 5-year or 10-year cure rate for breast cancer. What they really mean by this is a 5- or more year remission rate.  The longer the remission time lasts, the greater the possibility that the cancer actually has been cured, but there are cases of cancer recurrence many, many years after remission begins so the worry never goes away.

When I was first diagnosed, I was borderline stage 2B / 3A (on a scale of 0 – 4).  At that time, my oncologist gave me a 40% chance of beating the cancer – or a 60% chance of not.  The grim prognosis was due to certain high risk factors, including the type of cancer, fact that it had already spread to my lymph nodes, my young age, HER2+ status, grade 3 tumors (3 is the worst; not to be confused with “stage”), etc.  After chemo and surgery, I had a small amount of the cancer left, and at that time my oncologist improved my prognosis (I don’t recall the percentage but I think it was 10-20%).  Anyway, so now I’m considered in remission. 🙂

I had my annual MRI last month and everything came back clear so that was a huge relief.  I have my 6-month mammogram in a couple weeks.  I understand MRI’s pick up more detail than mammograms so I questioned why I had to have a mammogram so soon after my MRI but they said a mammogram looks at things differently and both scans are important.  So we’ll wait and see. 

Well, I don’t have too much more to say.  Well, except that yet another one of my friends has recently been diagnosed.  She has a blog too.  You should check it out (read her About Me section):  http://laurarenegar.wordpress.com/ I thought I knew all there was to know about breast cancer after being so ingrained in it for the past two years, but I learned quickly from reading her blog that I don’t. 

Oh and one last thing, a couple posts down I whined about no longer getting flowers (in my post about the differences between life as a cancer patient and life as a survivor)……well, Mom got me flowers for my birthday.  🙂  Thanks Mom!  I love you!

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7 Responses to “TWO YEAR MILESTONE”

  1. Gift Says:

    I was just thinking yesterday of the word “survivor” that when I could call myself as a cancer survivor (after all treatment completed or when). And you’ve just given me the answer. I am now then 8 months survivor 🙂

    Love your Blog a lot since it gives me lot of information and also tons of inspiration.

    Love and Hug from Thailand
    Gift

    • Danielle Kragnes Murray Says:

      Gift, I’m so happy my blog gives you the information, hope and encouragement you need during this time! It’s so nice knowing my blog has reached Thailand! How awesome is that?! I wish you the best in everything. Feel free to email me offline if you want to chat more. dk_murray@hotmail.com or danielle.murray@ally.com

  2. Laura Renegar Says:

    Danielle – I couldn’t be happier for your two year milestone AND another birthday ! You are one of the strongest women I know, and a true inspiration to many. Congrats on this 2 year mark . I feel very blessed to have met you back when YOU were MY Warrior Princess and I was always amazed at what a strong fighter you were, always positive and smiling. You were a true Primax Warrior Princess. I am now thankful to have you in my life so I can ask you nine million questions a day and I appreciate your patience, your honesty, and your strength. Remember our promise to each other “we will hold nothing back”….I cannot thank you enough – for everything ! Congrats again.

  3. Cat Says:

    Hi Danielle,

    I found your site when I googled hopeful Her2 stories. I was shocked at our similarities. I had fertility issues, I was diagnosed soon after my 31st birthday, I was stage 2b/3a. I had a successful response to treatment, but not a complete pathological response, I was her2+, ER+ & PR-. I am starting Tamoxifen now and will be unable to get pregnant until I am 37! Crazy, huh? I guess the only difference is I found my lump shortly after I gave birth to my son. Because of the pregnancy a lump formed and that is how I found the cancer. I think he saved my life. I am the first in my family to develop it. Oh, I almost forgot, I wrote the Oprah show to thank them for their episode on breast cancer with Christina Applegate (it was because of that show that I was doing self-exams). And a producer contacted me too. I had to make a video but I am not sure if they will use it or not. But I got tickets to a show. Again another similarity! I have also looked into adoption and have found many road blocks. Although I have wonderful son, I really would like another child some day. Feel free to email me if you would like, I would love to hear from you. All the best and I wish you a cancer free life!

    Cat


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