Tonight I realised, while posting on the Feel Yourself Facebook page, that I am now a statistic. Cancer Research UK has a handy page on their website that allows you to look up statistics for the top twenty big boys of cancer. The figures are taken from 2012 – the year I was diagnosed. I am one of these numbers:
51,103 cases diagnosed in 2012
140 people every day are told they have breast cancer, that’s 1 every 10 minutes
78% survive for 10 years (well I hope so anyway)
15-25% suffer from depression after diagnosis (according to the US National Cancer Institute)
I was diagnosed 3 years ago yesterday. It’s hard not to notice the day at all, and I’m never sure how to spend it and what to do. It was a time of deep emotional trauma, so celebrating can seem uninviting. I celebrated hard the first year, but that was partly just sheer joy to be alive with No Evidence of Disease. Last year I’d just had a baby and I was embarking on the treatment that would see me land in a psychiatric ward a few months down the line, and this year aforementioned incident and everything else that’s happened didn’t make me feel much like celebrating. Since that first Zoladex injection a year ago today I’ve lost my mind, my husband, my womb and my ovaries, all in some way or another linked to breast cancer. Not to mention my personal statistic of a 38% chance of a recurrence, the thought of which I have to constantly battle into submission in my brain.
But as I spent the day hanging out with my children and cooking them a roast, I felt grateful to be able to do that. 3 years ago I didn’t know if that would be the case, and even their bickering and hyperactive sibling rivalry didn’t stop me being a walking cliche and hugging all of them just that little bit harder. I’m so lucky to be alive, I’m lucky to be healthy (-ish, physically at least), I’m lucky my children are healthy because screw watching one of them have to go through disease or illness, and most of all I’m lucky not to be one of the 11,716 who died of breast cancer the year I was diagnosed. That’s 1 an hour – one family every hour loses someone they love to breast cancer. So this year I’m marking my cancerversary by just being grateful for what I’ve got. And showering them with a few more kisses…