Living with Cancer, Not Dying of It

A cancer survivor offers some statistics about the longevity of cancer survivors.

I think if any of us are honest, the first thing we fear when we are told we have cancer of any kind is asking if we are going to die. Then, when some of us are told it is an incurable kind, our fears increase and billow around us, smothering us.

I have had nurses say that we need to view cancer as a chronic illness instead of a fatal one, like diabetes, arthritis, or asthma, which we may battle all of our lives, but are not always fatal.

I do not want to diminish the possible fatality of cancer, and have indeed lost several dear friends and relatives to this insidious disease. But after my diagnosis, I told friends I was going to try to live with cancer not die from it.That was ten years ago!
I have a daily calendar I love, with great quotes, called “For Women Who Do Too Much.” I found this quote by Sheryl Crow, the famous musician: “More than 10 million Americans are living with cancer and they demonstrate the ever-increasing possibility of living beyond cancer.”Underneath the quote was another one I love that said, “Don’t do too much and be sure to do enough.”

Curious, I looked up some information on Sheryl Crow. She was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in 2006, a non-invasive form of breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy followed by seven weeks of radiation.

In 2010, she partnered with her surgeon to open the Sheryl Crow Imaging Center at Funk's Lotus Breast Center. In 2011 she was diagnosed with a meningioma, the most common kind of brain tumor, which is usually benign, and she is constantly monitored for this. She knows what the fear of cancer means and has helped others along her journey.

I dug into further research and discovered the numbers of people living with cancer are even more optimistic than her initial quote. In January 2019, the “Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts and Figures 2019-2021” estimated 16.9 individuals with a history of cancer were alive. This number excludes some noninvasive and skin cancers. But what is even more heartening is that it is estimated by 2030, there will be 22.1 million living cancer survivors. Another hopeful statistic is that 67% of survivors were still alive five years after being diagnosed.

What surprised me, even more, is that cancer survivors are expected to live longer, along with the general population. In fact, 64% of people still alive were aged 65 and older!

It is people like Sheryl Crow who give us hope. With great advances in medical treatments, our chances of survival have vastly increased. Yes, many people still think that cancer is a death threat, but not always. When I was first diagnosed, the doctor told me new treatments are coming out every day, and that has happened. So we can hope and be positive.

Also, we can remember to reach out to other newly diagnosed patients, and give them hope, along with famous people like Sheryl Crow. We are all in this battle together!

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