I am asked regularly — “when will you be done with treatment” or “How are you recovering” or something similar. In my view, the fact that I’m asked these questions comes from two places: 1) people don’t know what to say/ask, so they say/ask something that comes to mind; and 2) there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the difference between early stage and advanced breast cancer.
Adiba created this graphic …
It’s important to remember that there is no cure for cancer itself.
Let me say that again — there is no cure for cancer. Those men and women who are told they are cured when faced with an early stage diagnosis are being lied to and misled. There is no way for any doctor or any treatment to remove all cancer cells from the body, let alone all malignant cells. Every single person with early stage cancer of any kind faces an increased risk of reoccurrence and reoccurrence at Stage IV than the general population.
What is different between early stage and advanced breast cancer or MBC is that MBC is terminal. What doctors are doing when treating those of us who have MBC is simply attempting to stay ahead of the mutating cancer cells. Those of us who have MBC will be in some kind of treatment or, for those who are able to get to No Evidence of Disease (NED), regular surveillance. There is another status: No Evidence of Active Disease (NEAD), which is more for those of us with bone mets that will always show up on a scan.
Now you know more about the difference between early stage and MBC, which is terminal. And a recommendation — JUST ASK HOW WE ARE DOING. No need to ask about when we will be done with treatment or any other question that includes assumptions, just be a human being and ask how we are.