The “C” Word by Stella

In October 2011 I reached the 5 year mark.  Cancer-free for five fabulous years!  They certainly weren’t five worry-free years, by a long shot!  Early last year my blood work started showing some changes.  My Alkaline phosphatase levels were fluctuating.  They would go higher than normal, at my next appointment would drop back to nearly normal again, only to raise fairly drastically the next go round.  Very much like a roller coaster – a very not-fun roller coaster where I worried about liver or bone metastasis.  Of course, I got my very permanent, very meaningful 5-year tattoo in October anyway because I’m very, very stubborn like that.

So, this morning I had my 3 month follow-up appointment with my wonderful Oncologist, Dr. Villa.  She’s wonderful!  Incredible!  Awesome!  I fully and completely credit her (and God, of course) with saving my life.  I’ve even forgiven her for scaring the bejeebus out of me when I asked her what my recurrence risk was way back when in May of 2006.  She didn’t even blink an eye when she said, “90%”.  Jeez!  You could sugar coat it a little, Lady! 

Anyway, back to the appointment.  I’ve been very glad to have one coming up since I’d developed some sensitivity in some of my lymph node areas.  I’ve been losing sleep over it.  At least I think that’s what has been disrupting my night-time routine.  Maybe I’ve been worried.  Maybe a little bit.  Maybe.  So, imagine my surprise when she walked in to the exam room and told me that she was going to consider me cured. 

Wha?  Huh?  Did I miss something? 

Yeah, you heard me right!  The other “C” word. 

Cured! 

CURED! 

Cured, as in, gone.  No more cancer.  Not ever. 

OK.  Am I the only one that thinks this might be a bit of calling up the devil?  Scary stuff…

So she explained herself.  First off, my rogue Alk Phos levels have returned to normal.  In fact, my labs are “perfect”.  <Insert pride and preening here>  Then there’s those odds… the 90%…  Turns out most of those turn out to recur in the first 18 months.  Particularly the Triple Negative Inflammatory Breast Cancer patients, like me.  However, turns out that a small percentage of Triple Negatives have cancers that are particularly susceptible to chemo.  Women with this small percentage of Triple Negative cancer who manage to make it to the three, four and five-year marks also tend to never recur.  Never. 

Joyous of all words, that “never”. 

So here I sit with 5 years and 3 months of cancer-freedom under my belt and a new “C” word behind my name. 

Stella, cancer patient.

Stella, cancer survivor.

Stella, cured.

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

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36 Responses to The “C” Word by Stella

  1. Juli says:

    That is FANTASTIC !!!!!!!! May you remain cancer free and CURED for a very very long time ! I jump for joy with you ! So happy to hear women tell such good news !

    Juli IBC triple +

  2. Wow. I am inspired by this more than you can know, CURED. Wow. What a lovely idea. Pretty to think it’s possible!! Thank you very much for sharing. I am triple-negative metastatic fighter myself, with one more chemo to go, and some good CT results under my belt (today, as it happens!). But I hope beyond hope to be in that small percentage who makes it through. I’m tough. I know I can do it. And on this, a glorious day, I am happy for you – because you have. Kate O’Rourke

  3. Joy Rambert says:

    Congratulations Stella! As a double positive IBC survivor and single mom of a 3 yr old, I pray to one day hear the same great news! Cured is such a wonderful c word!

  4. clergygirl says:

    I’m right behind you stella! Next February! I think I’ll run a marathon then:)

  5. Delora says:

    That is such amazing news – congrats!! Now you need to get another tattoo 😉

  6. Now these are the kind of tears I would rather cry any day. Stella, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. So so so so so happy.

    • imstell says:

      The internet is truly a magical place where we can stumble upon perfect strangers one day, and shed tears of joy or sorrow with them (seemingly) the next. So glad I could give you reason to be happy…

  7. Jenster says:

    YAY!!! This is definitely one of my favorite posts ever! I think I’M going to celebrate!!

  8. I’m so happy for you Stella. Cured is a beautiful word.

  9. Stimey says:

    Stella, this makes me incredibly happy.

  10. Bon says:

    so glad to hear it, Stella. beautiful news.

  11. Lisa says:

    What a happy report! WONDERFUL! Bless you!

  12. Dear Stella – Cured,

    That;s a goose-bumper! Your joy jumps off the page! Thanks for sharing this great news and your new “C” word with all of us! I love it!

    Ellen McVicker,
    Author of Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings

  13. Beckye says:

    Hallelujah, Stella!! Praise the Lord! That is a wonderful thing to hear! Rejoicing with you! Fantastic!! Here’s to a long and very happy life!

  14. Congratulations, Stella! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
    My 5-year mark is coming up in August – I’m planning to celebrate the new “C” word as well!

  15. Melanie Jongsma, Wordsmith says:

    Congratulations on your cancer-freedom, Stella! And thanks for sharing this post. If you contact me via email (lifelinespublishing@gmail.com), I’d love to send you a free copy of my book, appropriately named Cancer Freedom!

  16. WOWSA! That is awesome news! Congrats!!

  17. This is wonderful news Stella! I am so happy to hear it!

  18. kelly Joppa says:

    I am so happy for you. Thank you for sharing your story and for highlighting this awesome “C” word.

    I am currently going through chemo and am also triple negative. I have actually been having a pretty rough week having recently allowed myself to read a more about TNBC disease. I feel encouraged by your great news… you got my eyes back on the prize of being CURED!

  19. YAY! or as my 12-year-old would say with her thumbs, OMG, Stella! Im LOL (and I can never decipher the rest of the stuff she writes but it means YAY!)

  20. Lahdeedah says:

    Stella, unstoppable 🙂 Heartfelt and grateful congratulations! I celebrated my 5th this October, too!

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  22. What a relief! Fantastic news!

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  24. lynda says:

    GOD bless you, wish I had found this website before, looked and looked to give my sister encourging stories like yours, lost her at 50 IBC 30 months,,,,I am sooooo happy for you… enjoy you life 🙂

  25. Margherita says:

    You wrote this post on the day i celebrated my 2 years cancer free. My oncologist said that if i make it to two years my chances are 75% it will not re accrue.
    I was HER2+, EST+/PER-,BRCA1+ and possibly also had some tumors triple-.
    Congratulations on your great news. I wish you all the best. Big hug!!

  26. Noah Berkowitz says:

    My hands are clapping for the great result of your battle for cancer. Being alive for 5 years after the treatment to remove cancer cells in the body is a great, great , great sign for the survivor. And You are one of those people who has given another chance to explore life and making it more fruitful, sense as you did before. Happy for you!

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