One More Day
Last updated: May 2023
You know how in the movies the oncologist always looks over their glasses and declares gravely, "You have 12-18 months to live." The characters grapple with this timeline, sometimes they are so afraid they are paralyzed, and other times it seems to free them to live their best life for the time they have left.
We don't do timelines
This isn't my experience. We don't do timelines. I've definitely googled it, late at night when I'm so scared that the time I have left with my partner is slipping quickly away. "How long do metastatic breast cancer patients live?" "Average lifespan of patients with late-stage breast cancer" just to pull a few from my search history. The results never giving me the answer I want, that there's a chance.
When Steph was first diagnosed, it was a question I desperately wanted answered. They, however, didn't. It's taken a lot of communication and respect for me to understand and now agree with this decision.
Even the oncologist, an expert in the field of breast cancer, told us that there's no way to know, going as far as to describe Steph as a "strong, robust person". My late-night web searches elicited much of the same, there's no way to know.
People are living longer
Steph has a specific subtype, ER+ HER2-, that doesn't have the most research dedicated to it in the later stages. The most I was ever able to find was 12-18 months. However with so little funding put towards the research the only studies I was able to find were over 4 years old, the number 18 months was shocking nonetheless.
Those first few months, every single day was a gift, then we began hoping for a week at a time, then a month, then dared to dream a year out. We would talk about how magical it would be for my partner to see our daughter's 5th birthday, let alone the idea of her 18th.
Steph busted through those statistics quickly, and we are now going on almost 2.5 years past diagnosis. We are involved deeply in the ABC community and have learned how wrong those numbers I read were. We've met people 5, 10, even 15 or more years out from diagnosis. Those statistics weren't representative of the ABC community or of the person and patient that my Steph is.
Every day is a gift
To look back on those early days and remember how my partner waking up every morning felt like a gift fills me with such deep sadness. I was so incredibly scared and felt so lost.
I was searching for information, a community, answers, anything that would feel like we still had a chance. A chance to raise our child together, to travel, to accomplish goals, and to possibly grow old together. To be here 2.5 years later with them still thriving feels like a gift. A gift sometimes I worry that I'm taking for granted.
We realized the other day that we passed the 2-year mark without any notice. At first, I was horrified. How could we reach such a big milestone without notice? We would never have been able to conceptualize life this far out in those early dark days, but that's just it. These aren't the early dark days. They are all just days. Days my partner is alive. Days my daughter has her mother. Days that we still have a chance. The milestone passed unnoticed because we did it, we made it from just hoping for one more day to dreaming about one more year, one more decade, a whole lifetime.
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