Language matters and the words that people use are so important. Here’s some words that are often misunderstood in this context:
Cure: many people who have breast cancer are told they are cured when they are at the place where cancer cannot be visibly detected in imaging tests or on bloodwork after a breast cancer diagnosis, early or later stage. The problem is that there is no cure for cancer of any stage. We simply don’t have the technology to see every single cancer cell.
Remission: most blood cancers (e.g., leukemia) can be said to go into remission once treatment has concluded and no cancer is detected in the blood. For people who have a blood cancer, remission can last for a small amount of time or a lifetime. Remission doesn’t fit the profile of solid tumor cancers and utilizing remission for breast cancer isn’t accurate since treatment is likely to be ongoing even if cancer cells cannot be detected by the technology we have today.
NED or NEAD (used for those of us with bone mets since healing bone often looks just like a cancerous bone on some imaging tests) is seen by many to be the “gold standard,” to be the Holy Grail to be obtained through treatment. Those of us living with MBC know that attaining NED or NEAD is a precarious situation since that status can be taken away just as fast.
We need more time and the only way we get more time is by research into better medications, medications that last longer, technology that can detect the pesky cancer cells, and the key to unraveling the mysteries of cancer. Consider donating to research this month and every month so that people like me can get more time with our precious families.