I recently joined a Facebook group for women who like myself, are survivors of Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). TNBC accounts for only about 15% of breast cancers. It is a very aggressive form of breast cancer and the initial prognosis is actually quite poor. In the US, most women diagnosed with breast cancer undergo hormonal treatment for five years in an effort to prevent recurrence. Unfortunately (of fortunately depending on how you look at it), there is no such drugs available for Triple Negs like myself. The standard treatment, not necessarily in this order is surgery, chemo, radiation and wait to see if you have a recurrence. It is an uncomfortable place to be.
The bad news is TNBC typically recurs more frequently and aggressively than other breast cancers and it generally does so within two years. The good news is that after two years the recurrence statistics drop within the range of more common cancers. The even better news is that if TNBC does respond to chemotherapy and you are still cancer-free five years later, your prognosis is actually better than those with other forms of breast cancer. I am a 10 year survivor of TNBC.
I was hesitant to join the TNBC Facebook group. After all, it had been ten years since my diagnosis and I wasn't so sure I wanted to drag out some old memories. It was time to look forward and move on... or was it?
I am a firm believer that God has a purpose for allowing us to experience the bad as well as the good things in life. While I believe God is good and He does not go around making people sick or killing them, He does not send financial hardship or destroy marriages, sometimes He allows us to experience these things for reasons only He can fully understand. What I do know is that if we trust and cling to Him, He will do what He did for Joseph. He will take that which was meant for evil, that which was meant to destroy us and turn it into good.
I knew that even though joining that group might bring up some very painful memories, there were women in there who needed to hear from women like myself who beat the odds. They needed to see that being diagnosed with TNBC did not necessarily mean it was time to give up, lie down and die. Though the past ten years have been the most difficult ones I have ever experienced, they have also been a tremendous time of personal growth as well as blessing. There were women who needed to hear that.
So for the past few days, I've been listening, I have been sharing and I have been remembering. I have not only connected with frightened women who have been newly diagnosed, I've also connected to long-term survivors like myself. More importantly, I have given a number of women hope. More than once I have been told, "Thank you. I needed to hear this today. I really did. You have given me hope."
While you might not be a "cancer survivor", as Christians we are "sin-survivors". We must never forget that. While we must move forward, we must not forget what it is like to be separated from God. We must not forget the fear, loneliness and despair. We must not only remember what God has done for us, we must bear witness of it and share it with the broken, the lonely and the suffering. Hope has a name, His name is Jesus.