It's a small thing, this having to check in and have blood drawn from my port every third Monday. Chemo is less of a small thing, but I can justify those visits. The drive is worth it because I'll be there for two to three hours. Plus, chemo is working. I can visit with a friend or catch up on my emails. Labs, on the other hand, take only ten or fifteen minutes, but I still spend an hour in the car.
And yet -- it is such a minor complaint in the grand scheme. Other women in my circle spent the holiday weekend having seizures or being hospitalized from complications of metastatic breast cancer. I have no right to feel irritated about an hour in the car for blood work.
For many people with this disease, side effects and treatments and the cancer itself take a much harsher toll. And after everything we go through to extend our lives, only 1 in 5 of us will live five years after our initial Stage 4 diagnosis. It is such a harsh statistic that the American Cancer Society warns readers to skip ahead to the next page if they'd rather not see the statistics that they put in a chart much further down the webpage.
Despite these odds, I think I've made it abundantly clear that I find so many reasons to have hope. Hope I will be one who makes it way, way, way past the five-year mark. Hope that more and more people with MBC will start having outcomes more like mine, and that doctors start calling this a chronic rather than terminal illness. Hope that the next generation of women won't have to worry about breast cancer at all. Wouldn't that be nice?
If you want to help advance this cause, please consider writing your representatives in Congress, donating to groups like Metavivor (which only funds Stage 4 research), and spreading the word that there is more to breast cancer than early detection.