pool reduced

A perfect day to hang out in our wonderful pool, the one extravagant purchase we do not regret. It is large and deep, filled with cool turquoise,  mildly salty, water, soothing to both body and soul. My friend Cecilia comes over and gives me “The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer.” (Winner of the Ross Kushner Award for American Medical Writing.) It feels surreal to look down at the 36 pt. blue typeface against a pale yellow background and realize that I have breast cancer and the book is for me and about me. Flipping through the pages, I discover the complexity of breast cancer: There are so many different kinds, different stages, different phases, different grades, everyone with a different outcome. The outcome depends on — what? I need to figure this out.

I glance at the statistics for my cohort. Five year survival looks good: First five years 96% still alive.

Ten years looks less promising. Best case seemed to be 75% alive after 10 years.  Worst case was 54%. That is, according to my math impaired mind, 50-50: a coin toss.

Twenty years looks a bit scary: 40% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer will die from the disease. Could that really be right? But I will be 80 years old. You have to let go sometime, especially if you dread assisted living. But from what little I have gleaned from my research so far: dying from cancer is not the ideal way to depart.

I cheer myself up: pioneer women had an average life expectancy of 38 years. Women in Sudan….Women in India…Women living in all under developed countries, their numbers are dismal even now in the 21st century, a lot more dismal than my life expectancy with cancer.

I close the book and put The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer up-side down on the table beside me. I don’t want the title to stare me in the face while I am trying to relax.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: