Sunday, 30 March 2014

7 days to go or DIEP-Day -7

By this time next week my operation will be finished and I will starting the recovery process.  I can't wait to get it over with.

Of course there is trepidation - is the recovery process as bad as everyone says?  My recovery from knee replacement 3 years ago was nowhere near as bad as I expected from reading people's accounts on the internet.  Perhaps I will be lucky again?  Or perhaps everything will go pear-shaped this time?

What will be really brilliant about reconstruction (and the symmetry procedure on my other breast) is being able I am normal again rather than deformed.  I want to leave this cancer well behind and get on with my life.  Some people have their world defined by their breast cancer "journey"- I hate the word. I'm not on a journey, I'm just having treatment.  OK?

I want to finish treatment and be able to wear a swimsuit and other clothes without looking weird.  I want to be able to get changed in front of other women at the gym without freaking them out.  At present I go to a curtained off cubicle to get changed.

Of course the fear never goes away.  If I use one of those online calculators, it indicates that my chance of surviving the next 10 years is just under 80%.  And of course, even if I survive 10 years, I am not out of the woods.  Those 10 year survivors include people who already have metastatic cancer which will get them in the end.

I will never be out of the woods.

But the longer the cancer stays away, the more drugs there will be to treat it and this is an area where £Squillians is being spent on research. New drugs are being approved all the time: Perjeta, TMD1, GMDC0941, Neratinib, Everolimus, Tanespimycin, Bevacizumab.

Maybe we really are (or will be in a few years) at the cusp for a step change in treating cancer?

Just after the Second World War, it was like this with TB.  Before antibiotics, TB was one of the big killers of young and middle-aged people.  The only treatment was rest and surgery to collapse a lung.  And once TB spread to other parts of the body, you were a goner.  Even when it went into remission and you were allowed to leave the sanitorium, you knew it wasn't cured. It was just arrested.

And it could come back.

Then within a few years TB was completely curable with druge - antibiotic treatment swept away the sanitoria and the mutilating TB surgery.

Maybe it will be like that with cancer?  Maybe within 5 or 10 years?

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