We have all been guilty of it on more than one occasion no matter what place we are on Breast Cancer Road – patient or survivor. Late at night, concerns fill our head, and as we sit in front of the computer, suddenly we just cannot resist searching on Google “life expectancy for (enter your cancer stage, grade, and parameters). Boom, up will pop that you will live one month, one year, two years, or 5 years, 3 months and 12 days.
As cancer patients and survivors, we have enough fears and side effects to concern ourselves with on a daily basis. My philosophy is throw away those statistics. Quit reading them, quit looking at them, and get them out of your head. If you are Stage 0, Stage 4.or any stage in between . .don’t read them!
We all know or know of people who lived way beyond the statistics. People who should have been dead 40 years ago from some dread disease, and they die from old age. I want to be that person and not a statistic.
My maternal grandmother was a great source of inspiration to me in this area. In her early 60s, Nana was told her heart was so bad she should have been dead years prior according to all the heart tests. Her long-time doctor wasn’t helping her. Often, she could barely breathe and would have terrible heart “spells.” Nana decided she needed a young doctor with new ideas.
So she went out and found one! Nana was a snowbird spending winters in Florida, so she decided there would be doctors with new ideas in Florida. Dr. Werner, the young, bright, fresh out of medical school cardiologist said he would try some new drugs on her that were just approved by the FDA. He warned her that these drugs did not have much of a track record, but because she had no choice, she should try them. Nana was thrilled to try them as my grandmother always loved trying new things!
When she got out of that appointment, I was extremely concerned. I asked, “Nana, aren’t you afraid you will die knowing the statistics?” Nana answered in her sassy, spunky yet loving and faith-filled way: “Denise, honey, I am not a statistic. When it’s my time, it’s my time. I am not going to listen to a statistic. And I trust that young Dr. Werner will help me get better. God brought him to me.” My grandmother lived to be 92 and died peacefully of old age. She was still singing Dr. Werner’s praises until the end and taking the same medicines he prescribed 30 years previously.
That is the spirit I want to live by as a Cancer Survivor. I replay over and over in my head my encounters with three Stage 4 women I met during chemo. They were all given 3 to 6 months to live. All three of them said, “NO WAY.” They all took action and found a new Oncologist that gave them hope. When I encountered these inspirational women, they had been alive 7 years, 12 years, and 20 years respectively!! Separately, they all said the same thing to me. “NEVER give up HOPE and make sure you trust your Oncologist with your life!”
Don’t let ANYONE take away your hope, especially a statistic. Protect HOPE like it is the greatest gift you have ever received because it is. Do whatever is necessary to protect that gift. Guard and defend it. Wrap it up in a box, decorate it, put ribbons and jewels on it! It is your most prized possession. Treat it that way!