I went to a late stage (stage 3 or 4) breast cancer panel tonight. Didn’t know this before but apparently Mecklenburg county has a higher rate (9%) of late stage diagnoses than surrounding areas and they are trying to find out why by linking stories. They are not finished but from what I observed tonight, my take is the following:
1- It doesn’t have anything to do with race, education level, or income, which has been shown in other studies to be true. I’m sure that plays a part for some but not this group.
2- Three of us were in our 30s. I knew all of the 30 year olds. One was my friend Anne Marie who I knew before cancer (we were diagnosed a year apart). Another was a mom from Aidan and SaraGrace’s school. A couple other women were in their 40s and the rest older.
3- Almost ALL of us had similar stories about going misdiagnosed for a while. Presenting the first lump and months sometimes years later getting that mammogram that was first dismissed because of another perceived more likely cause. For me that was the “implant ripple” and “pregnancy cyst”. Maybe instead of blabbing to the public about pink ribbons and self exams, we should educate the doctors and insurance companies about how to listen and not dismiss lumps when you can’t see them and always get at least an ultrasound. No risk in that.
4- This is the most encouraging but I actually met many stage 4 women women who are still holding on strong and some in remission 10-15 years out. Holding onto this for my stage 4 friends! Please pray for them. Tracey, Janet and Gift. Tracey is the girl who I met through my blog and we both had the same kind of breast cancer and both went on to adopt. Janet, who is the wife of a friend from college. She also has a young son. And my Thailand pen pal who I met through my blog when we were first diagnosed. Very sad and scary that a lot of my breast cancer friends are battling stage 4 disease and recurrences now. And while you’re praying please add my new friend Colleen to your list. She was diagnosed last week and is waiting on body scans.
That’s about it for the study. They will keep us in the loop as it progresses. I have my five year mark coming up on March 24, turn 36 on March 25 and have my next oncology follow up and MRI in a couple weeks. First time I’m not flipping out with anxiety. Well maybe just a tad. But way less than the years past.