The enormity of the task at hand to stop breast cancer dead in its tracks is not lost on me. I felt this a long time before my original diagnosis of Early Breast Cancer back in 2004 and had been participating in some fundraising for the Cancer Council each year for a quite a few years. Everything worth solving has to start somewhere and I believe we have come so very far already in the right direction. There is so much left to do. I want so badly to make a difference. To be able to raise awareness about how people with this disease are ill but are fighting every step of the way and are still the same people on the inside. This is why I am sharing my tiny piece of the huge puzzle with you.
Have I changed? Am I still Me? mmm, I suppose it depends who you ask. I am coming up to 10 months since my Secondary diagnosis and I really don’t feel too different inside. I still have the same hopes, dreams and fears as anyone else. It is just I have a hurdle in front of me that has a name. If you are lucky you spend your life never having to face a huge hurdle such as secondary cancer. It’s job is to make my life more challenging. My job is to reduce the height of the hurdle and get past it.
So far this time around, I have undergone a full course of hair removal treatments which fortunately and unfortunately has worn off.. Oh well, was saving heaps on hair care products !!. My speed resembles a turtle most days but that does not stop me getting about too much. I have days that I am related to a penguin because of the stiffness (from treatment) and I seem to “waddle” about until I get momentum going. I am lacking sleep sometimes (who isn’t). My concentration comes in waves and you never quite know when the next wave will be. Bonus is, at least they keep on coming. A couple of operations leaving a couple of small souvenir scars and of course, tests. Well let’s not go there for too long – I am sure there are not many more types of tests that can extract blood or take pictures that I have not undergone and continue to do as required. There are also ongoing tablets and combined with blood test or scan result dependent a change as quick as lightening to something different.
I try to walk every day and do Tai Chi too. I take the time to look after myself and take notice of things around me that I would have been too busy to notice before. – Hang on, this is stuff I should have been doing anyway !!
My hair is shorter but hair is far from my priority these days. I see things from a different angle now but really I am still just me. Any person who has been struck by this disease would say the same.. Not one will tell you that they are not fighting for the best possible outcome in defeating this.
Why do I work on getting my health and fitness as awesome as it can be? I have heard it said, “she has cancer – why is she bothering?” Well, it is because I am still alive (last time I looked) and as long as I have breath in my body I will fight to beat this disease. Every day, it is being looked upon more and more as a chronic disease. A tough and damn annoying one but, a way better way to describe it than in the past. Watching ongoing medical advances (come on, keep them coming thick and fast !!) together with a huge dose of positivity and hope. Together they are a very powerful thing.
Every single person who has been diagnosed with this disease has a story that is totally individual and even though we are all under the same banner it is different for each and every one of us. That is why it is so hard to solve. One giant puzzle where each person is a small but important piece. We all hope that with support from friends, family and the community that the puzzle will shrink and become easier to solve.
We are not scary, we are nothing to be afraid of. We are just people who happen to have become ill. If you know someone that is fighting this terrible disease, stop and think for just a moment and walk in their shoes. How would you like to be looked upon and helped if it was you?
So if you can help out in anyway. By understanding more, visiting someone for a cuppa, just being there to hold someone’s hand or even donating money if you can. It will all go a long way towards solving this tricky puzzle and then we can all stand back and look at the awesome tapestry it has made and be happy that it has been finished.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Australia.
- One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
- In 2012, 14,610 women are predicted to be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia. (40 women per day)
- By 2020, 17,210 women are projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Australia. This is an average of 47 women every day.
- Increasing age is one of the strongest risk factors for developing breast cancer. More than two in three cases of breast cancer occur in women aged between 40 and 69 years.
- Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer have an 89% chance of surviving 5 years after diagnosis.
- Improvements in survival are attributed to earlier detection of breast cancer through regular mammograms and improved treatment outcomes for breast cancer.
- On average, seven women die from breast cancer every day in Australia. Finding breast cancer early increases the chance of surviving the disease.
- Although rare, breast cancer can also affect men. 113 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. This is approximately 1% of all breast cancer cases.
- One in 688 men will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Statistics – Extracted from” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Cancer Australia 2012. Breast cancer in Australian: an overview. Cancer series no. 71. Cat. No. CAN 67. Canberra: AIHW. via the National Breast Cancer Foundation site
As a Comparison – In the USA (Extracted from the American Cancer Society Site) – note the average of 1 in 8 is still consistent. The numbers are much larger due to the number of residents in the US
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States are for 2013:
- About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer