Yesterday, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell announced she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I had planned to be hiking in Wyoming last week, but instead discovered that I am now among the one in eight women in this country … who have had breast cancer,” Mitchell said.
Luckily, the news isn’t that bad. Mitchell’s cancer was discovered at a very early stage, and the cancer has not spread. “I’m looking at this as another of life’s lessons,” she said on the show. “For you women out there and for the men who love you, screening matters. Do it. This disease can be completely curable if you find it at the right time.”
In past years, Mitchell has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
I am sorry you have breast cancer.
Unless you had DCIS (aka Stage 0) there is no “had” with breast cancer.
Early detection is not a cure. About 20 to 30 percent of women originally diagnosed with Stage I, II or III breast cancer will go on to have a recurrence. Unfortunately many of them will be be joining me in the Stage IV ranks.
I learned I HAVE breast cancer in July 2009. I will always HAVE it.
“Completely curable” is a like a fat man wearing a hockey jersey. It covers a lot of ground. You have access to the top medical experts in the world–ask them what “cured” means in the setting of breast cancer.
Also: inflammatory breast cancer, the rare but aggressive kind that killed my mom, has NO LUMP. Screening would not necessarily help.
One caveat: Don’t rely on Dr. Nancy’s breast cancer expertise.
The day after Elizabeth Edwards died, “Today” show host Matt Lauer and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC chief medical editor, recapped Edward’s cancer experience. Noting that Edwards was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2004, Lauer asked Snyderman about Stage 3 survival rates.
At no time, during their discussion, did Lauer or Snyderman mention that Edwards entered the metastatic ranks in 2007 and, in fact, died from metastatic breast cancer, AKA Stage IV.
Snyderman made it sound as though Edwards somehow died of Stage 3 breast cancer.
Let me tell you, Andrea, metastatic breast cancer (aka Stage IV) is one lonely place. It’s like hiking in Nebraska forever.
Many people don’t grasp that metastatic breast cancer is not a rare “kind” of breast cancer. When someone dies of breast cancer, that’s metastatic breast cancer. It might have been triple negative breast cancer, triple positive breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, hormone receptive breast cancer (ER/PR+) or some variation. In all cases, regardless of pathology, if the person had metastatic breast cancer, it means the cancer spread outside the breast to the bones, liver, lungs or brain.
Metastatic breast cancer claims 45,000 lives annually in the U.S. As one of 155,000 U.S. people living with MBC, I have a vested interest in educating people about this incurable disease and urging them to support research that helps people with advanced breast cancer live longer.
I will be sharing stories of people who died from MBC–as well as those who are living with it every day of every month–not just October! I invite you to do the same.
P.S. Re the Komen walk, please see “6,000 Runners Fail To Discover Cure For Breast Cancer & Other Onion Highlights”