Milestones by imstell

Hey, Everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve logged on here.  That’s good news because if I was having active cancer issues I’d be on here daily. 

So, I’m here today to share some great news.  Last week I hit my 5 Year Survivor mark!  What a milestone!  I do feel blessed to be here, in this place, standing in the sunlight of cancer-freedom!  The odds were against me being here.  Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is not a kind and gentle cancer.  The odds moving forward aren’t really much better but I’m confident in my ability to survive again! 

Five years ago I was given a 90% lifetime risk of recurrence.  I don’t think that has really changed after 5 years (but I’ll be sure to asked my Oncologist when I see her next!).  Unlike other breast cancers where recurrence drops dramatically after the 5 year mark (75% of recurrence occurs in those first 5 years), IBC does not.  Depending on which study you read, the overall percentage of women who reach 5 years  survival is somewhere between 52% and 56%.  That is not necessarily Disease Free Survival (DSF) like mine.  These figures include people like our own WhyMommy who are living with metastatic disease (Metavivors), but living nonetheless.  Still, in the not-so-distant past women with IBC survived only an average of 18 months after diagnosis.  We’ve come a long way, Baby! 

Yet there is still so far to go…  Survival rates for Inflammatory Breast Cancer at 5 years is roughly 54% (I’ll split the difference in the studies).  10 year survival rates are 35% and drops to 28% at 15 years.  Staggering!  Only 28 of every 100 Inflammatory Breast Cancer patients will live 15 years beyond their diagnosis.  These are horrible figures for a young woman’s disease! 

On to better news…  I celebrated my AWESOME MILESTONE with a big party and a tattoo to commemorate!

Don't ask me why it says "in" counting...

Survival Tattoo

The pink ribboned butterfly represents my metamorphosis from cancer patient to cancer survivor.  The dandelion holds the wishes for my cancer sisters’ complete recoveries.  The floating dandelion seeds are for each of my years of survival (there are supposed to be 5 but I need it touched up).  The white (pearl) bird is for my Grammy who recently died of lung cancer.  The fuchsia one is for Andrea (Punk Rock Mommy) – my first IBC loss.  And the pink bird is for Sarah of Sprucehill whose passing hit me so very hard.  I hope to add many, many more floating seeds over the years and no more birds.  Ever. 

More news:  I’ve added a link on the HELP page for a Care Calendar.  My gf is using it for meal sign ups.  It’s easy peasy and it’s FREE! 

Cross-posted to I Can’t Complain Any More Than Usual


4 Responses to Milestones by imstell

  1. claudiafauver413 says:

    Congratulations on your 5-yr cancerversary. I plan to reach mine next August. The stats on IBC are not too promising, are they? It would be wonderful if we could make them better. I know there’s a lot of research going on and I pray there will be more and more. Every day I look for a big announcement, a breakthrough for IBC.

    I volunteer with the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation (see and try to use every opportunity to educate the general public and the medical profession. I’m sick of hearing that women are misdiagnosed or have their diagnosis delayed because neither they nor their doctors know about the signs and symptoms of IBC. We’re really working on that aspect while praying for a big breakthrough.

  2. justenjoyhim says:

    YAY for 5 years and here’s to FIFTY more. I’m so glad for you to be cancer-free, and I certainly hope and pray this trend continues for you.


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