……and counting. And I have the cake to prove it:
It is a tough choice every year about whether today is a celebration for making it another year or a sad day of remembrance for the things I have lost. This year I decided today was a good reason for cake and thus today is a celebration.
The last 4 years may not have been how I wanted or planned to spend my time but I can’t deny it has been an adventure. Lots of good and lots of bad and since I am in this adventure I have every intention of continuing on with it for many years more.
To assist me in this adventure are my super supportive family and friends, my oncologist and all the other docs I have seen, the fabulous chemo nurses, the million and one ultrasound, CT, MRI, and nuclear medicine techs, and of course all the lab assistants and lab techs that have collected and analysed all of my assorted lab specimens. Behind the scenes, there is also all of the researchers that work tirelessly on anything and everything related to cancer and how to slow it down, stop it, maybe even prevent it.
In the 4 years that I have been living in this world of cancer I know of 3 new drugs that have been approved for treating breast cancer. TDM-1 was approved in the fall of 2012 and is another targeted therapy for Her-2 positive tumours. Pertuzumab, which I am currently on, was approved in April 2013. The treatment protocol I was just on with the combination of Docetaxol, Herceptin, and Pertuzumab is now the standard first line of defence for stage IV patients in BC. Ibrance, a hormonal therapy for ER+, Her-2 negative patients, was approved in May 2016.
At the time of my diagnosis in July 2012, 18 – 25% of stage IV patients made it to 5 years. The median survival was 28 months. With the addition of these 3 drugs to the current drug protocols it is hoped there will be a noticable increase in survival rates in the next few years.
Of course, to keep all of this research going the big requirement is money. A fantastic charity to support is the BC Cancer Foundation, the fundraising arm of the BC Cancer Agency, where I go for all of my treatment. The Foundation is a major funder for research done at the Cancer Agency, but also does wonderful things like supplying information packages to newly diagnosed patients that supply a lot of the initial information needed by each patient to better understand and deal with their diagnosis.
Conveniently, anyone interested in donating to this organisation, my wonderful friend Grace is participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer this year. This is a 200 km bicycle ride that takes place the last weekend in August from Vancouver to Seattle, Washington and is a huge fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation. To make this very easy, here is a link to Grace’s fundraising page http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Vancouver2016?px=4069886&pg=personal&fr_id=1573.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, ‘oh, that is a pretty specific charity and it only benefits BC patients, I don’t think I’ll donate.’ Too bad, you’re not off the hook, send a little money to the Canadian Cancer Society. I’ve been at this cancer thing long enough and dealt with enough crap, I’m okay with bossing people around and telling them where to put their money 😉
And if you’re from outside Canada drop a few dollars to your favourite cancer charity, I and every other cancer patient thanks you. It is the research that keeps us alive and we would all like to live a little longer!
And after you have sent off a few dollars have a lovely day! And keep your chin up, it is almost the weekend 🙂