Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Biotheranostics, Inc. (Breast Cancer Index®), but the opinions and experiences shared are my own
When you hear the words, “It’s Cancer”, life is never the same. Now, 4 1⁄2 years after my diagnosis, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m alive. But treatment for me continues in other ways. Besides watching my diet, working out and living a healthy life, I still take a pill every day. The pill is supposed to help make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. It’s like insurance, a little white pill that I take every night before bed, for ten years. Now, 2 1⁄2 years after my in-hospital treatment ended, I’m still learning new questions to ask.
Everyone’s cancer is different. Everyone’s treatment plan is catered to their cancer, but also according to their doctors’ methods and beliefs. I was diagnosed with a kind of breast cancer that’s not the most common. In fact, I was told that my diagnosis and combination of invasive lobular and Her2+ was on the rare side. Her2+, from what I was told, means, in simple terms, if the cancer comes back, it can come back anywhere. Having that information was crucial to me because it helped me make the decision to just have a lumpectomy and continue with an aggressive treatment to tackle the cancer and any potential cells that escaped the area. When my chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy infusions were completed, I understood I would have to go on a medicine for ten years.
There are two categories of medicines for breast cancer patients after treatment. One is for pre-menopausal women while there’s another class for post-menopausal women. Though I was 43 and pre-menopausal, my doctor decided to put me into menopause and on a medicine for ten years. I asked a lot of questions about this and have always wondered if that was the right choice. I started to receive an extra shot to put me into menopause and came to the decision to have my ovaries removed.
I wrote about all of these decisions and the challenges and complications and emotions that came along with it on Good Housekeeping. But, for not another minute, will I not share how I think I can help others, while also learning more questions to possibly even help myself. Since I shared my story publicly, I have heard from people across the country sharing their journey and asking questions. I don’t know the answers, but to have others to bounce questions off of and share experiences with, could be the added bonus patients need – to learn more. To learn what to ask. To me, that’s the most important thing.
So when I was approached by the maker of Breast Cancer Index to help share their mission, I quickly jumped at the opportunity. I learned something I didn’t know. I learned something about my own treatment and new questions to ask. I have learned that by taking the test, you get a definitive answer (Intended Use and Limitations can be found at breastcancerindex.com). I have learned that by taking the test, it reduces the uncertainty around treating breast cancer with extended anti-estrogen therapy, just like the one I am on. I have learned that nearly 95% of women with hormone receptor positive (HR+), early-stage breast cancer do not benefit from anti-estrogen therapy after five years. 100% of women deserve to know what is right for them. I am one of those women. Now I’m learning more questions to ask.
Do I need the medicine that I am currently on for ten years? Is five years sufficient? I emailed my doctor this morning to ask if I had ever taken the test. Does she use Breast Cancer Index? Did my old doctor already test me? How do I not even know this? Is there a benefit to me going off the medicine? I can’t wait to learn and share more!