On June 30th it will be three years since my first clean scan, after the cancer had spread to my liver.
For almost three years, I have had no evidence of disease (been NED, in cancer lingo).
And yet I remain in treatment.
I am asked frequently why I continue to receive chemotherapy and Herceptin, if there is no sign of cancer in my body. And the truth is that I often ask myself the same question. Certainly, I don’t feel like I have cancer. And I do feel that the cumulative effects – both physical and emotional of ongoing treatment are wearing me down.
I am stuck in cancer’s grey area.
My oncologist said to me last summer, “For all we know, you could be cured.”
We just don’t know enough.
Another oncologist I spoke to, hinted that some would take me out of treatment at this point. A third suggested that some doctors might take me off the chemotherapy and leave me on the Herceptin.
But they all agree that we just don’t know enough to make any decision based on certainty. There are just too few women in my situation, younger women who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast and responded so well to treatment, to know what to do with us in the long term.
There are more of us every year, though.
In ten years’ time, there will almost certainly be more answers.
And when I get too frustrated, I remind myself that if I had been diagnosed ten years earlier, I would almost certainly be dead.
So, for now, I’ll take the grey.