Why live in such fear?

I originally wrote this 11 September 2012, for some reason it didn’t get published

I started an iPetition in the UK to try to get more funding for MBC and I sent it to some folks via e-mail.  The response seems to be slow but I must say that I was surprised to get an e-mail back from someone with early stage breast cancer who didn’t feel she could sign it because I had stated that early stage BC is curable.  I asked for statistics for the numbers who die for early stage, but I have not heard back.  It has slowly dawned on me that she is living in such fear of metastatic breast cancer that she can’t see that there actually is a difference.  She cannot consider herself to be cured because she might have a progression.

The question that comes to my mind is why live in such fear?

My short lived initial diagnosis was Stage II.  This was because my lymph nodes were clear of cancer so they assumed that it had not spread, when in fact it was long gone.  When I went for the pre-operation checks before my mastectomy almost exactly 5 years ago the nurse commented that I was very calm about the whole thing.  Since my understanding, though not necessarily my instinct, was that I was Stage II I replied that I would worry about it when there was a need to worry.  My mother had breast cancer, which was caught early and she died 15 years later of something unrelated.  She had a mastectomy, but no chemo or rads as this was in about 1974.  Breast cancer is a form of cancer which if it is caught early does have good survival statistics by comparison to some forms of cancer.  Of course that might not actually be saying very much, but there is more reason for optimism than pessimism with an early breast cancer diagnosis.  I appreciate and understand that there is no guarantee that all will be well, but the stats are for you.  So why spend your time so stressed out that the cancer might return?  It is known that stress is a contributor factor for cancer, so why allow it to take such a hold over your life?

I am by no means an optimist, and actually I would say I am more of a glass half empty type of person, which makes it even harder for me to understand the assumption that cancer in any form equals death.  Then it stuck me that maybe what the early breast cancer community is trying to tell us is that they are the ones that matter because of something that might happen to them.  That they are the true victims of breast cancer because they have been diagnosed with the disease, have been treated successfully but it might return and progress to Locally Advanced Breast Cancer, or Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.

To live with such fear and trepidation that the worst might happen must be so draining and exhausting.  It must suck the life out of them so no wonder that 30% of them will join us.


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Health Communications and Health Advocacy

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