Stage 2 Breast Cancer is Complicated but Survivable

After my biopsy I was told that my cancer was Stage 1, but a lumpectomy revealed that the tumor was larger than we thought. I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, which immediately changed my treatment options. I was mad about that and felt a bit deceived by the oncologist who so confidently told me that my tumor was "very small" and I was "very young" and my treatment would be minimal. I was 46 and had assumed that this cancer diagnosis business was down to a fine science.

But it is a complex business, taking a wide variety of factors into consideration, and every case is a bit different from all the others.

We had my hormone status early on - estrogen sensitive, like 80% of all breast tumors. It was a low-grade tumor that had probably been lurking about 8 years before it was palpable. When I was 38, I was sent for my first mammogram, and something suspicious showed up on it. I was scheduled for a breast biopsy, but the hospital imaging equipment could not find the little bugger, and I was sent home, happy as a lark and free as the wind. But the bad cells were there, and they made a hard, bumpy lump in 2002, so out they had to come! Fortunately, no lymph nodes were affected, so it looked like my treatment would be relatively light - 4 rounds of chemo and some radiation. But when my lumpectomy failed to remove all of that historic tissue, a mastectomy became necessary and I was told I would have 6 rounds of chemo.

I will never forget how hard and how long I cried on hearing that news - so shocked and scared that I could not drive myself home. It's things like that which started me digging around for my own information on breast cancer - I didn't want any more nasty surprises.

My attitude improved when I read that Stage 2 may be divided into many sub-levels, but no matter which one I got stuck with, I was highly likely to live a long time after treatment!

Patients with Stage 2 had 5-year survival rates between 80 and 75% based on data taken 10 years ago. If you've just recently been diagnosed, chances are that your chances of survival are even higher that those numbers, due to improvements in treatments and higher accuracy in diagnosis.

Knowing that you will survive the disease as well as the treatments can help. But it might not allay your fears about the road ahead. Get emotional and spiritual support for your journey, be proactive about understanding your treatment options, and take charge of your health. Many of us have been along the same road, and we want to help you. Don't go it alone - we're here for you!

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