“How are you my Uniboob Mom?” is how my 12 year old son greeted me when I arrived home from the hospital after my mastectomy. It made me laugh out loud. And my new persona Uniboobmom was born.
There’s a lot of information out there on breast cancer: the types of cancer, the procedures and treatments, risk factors and suspected causes, blogs about women’s journeys, and of course lots of fundraising sites – but there’s very little out there on what you are in for…where you fit in the whole big breast cancer scheme of things. Maybe you don’t care and that’s fine. But I’m a numbers person and I like context.
The first thing you learn is that every woman’s situation is different and that the doctors don’t have all the answers. Pretty quickly I determined that as Grade 1, Stage 1 DCIS I was pretty lucky. This is hardly a death sentence. Even so, I really welcomed all the good-news stories people shared – like the ones about your friend’s aunt who had a lumpectomy 30 years ago and is fine today. Each anecdote was unconsciously tallied and filed by my brain for future reassurance.
I discovered that the best and most authentic thing someone could say to me was “I’m sorry you have to go through this”. I asked “Just how many women are going through this”? Thankfully I had seen lots of “survivors” at the Weekend to End and knew they were out there. It helped too that my oldest best friend was diagnosed two years before me and had made it through.
I learned that the biggest risk factor for breast cancer, and many cancers, is age – even though Breast Cancer is showing up in younger women.
Approximately 23,000 women per year in Canada are expected to be diagnosed with Breast Cancer (source Canadian Cancer Society statistics 2010).
And with the 5 year survival rate at 87% (see http://www.cbcf.org) my guesstimate is that there are easily a quarter of a million Canadian women out there with breast cancer. You proabably know a few.