Outside the Law

October 11, 2011

So, you’re better now, right?

Filed under: Cancer — Jeniene @ 8:38 pm

Six months of chemotherapy + bilateral mastectomy +six weeks of daily radiation = who the hell knows.

After all the active treatment, I was told that the chemotherapy didn’t “have the effect [they] had hoped it would.”  The surgery on the other hand was considered a success and they believe they got all of the tumors.  The radiation was more of a precautionary measure as my recurrence numbers are at about 50%.  So, in the end, I went through all that and have a 50/50 chance of doing it all over again.  Not the best odds, no.

So, after almost a years worth of treatment, I am often asked the question, “Are you better? Are you a ‘Survivor’?”  In the face of this I often stammer and say…”Well, yes, but  it’s complicated.”  This is–by far–the best answer I’ve ever seen to a question that is too nuanced and depressing for me to answer on most days. In one fell swoop, it sums up what I either can’t or won’t say on any given day.

I look forward to enjoying long-standing membership in the 60 percent club.


  1. When my stepmother was dealing with breast cancer/nine lymph node involvement over twenty years ago, her doc said, “I don’t really care about the odds; my plan is to put you on the right side of them.”

    I’ve already put you there on the right side of the odds. I don’t just think you’re a survivor; I know you’re a thriver.

    Comment by Sarah Buttenwieser — October 11, 2011 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  2. Yeah, you know…the whole Komen rah-rah movement, “survivors, whoo!” and “if you have a positive attitude, you’ll beat cancer” (unspoken subtext: it’s totally your fault if you don’t beat it)…it’s horrible. “I bought the yogurt with the pink lid so I’m on your team, and you better prove yourself worthy and be a Happy Survivor.”

    Here’s wishing you the lifelong remission everyone deserves.

    Comment by Amy_Rey — October 12, 2011 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  3. I know you and everyone else don’t want to go through it again, but separate from the possibility of being “better/cured”, do you think you’re somehow better for the experience?

    Comment by Ken Shapiro — October 12, 2011 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

  4. I’m trying this again, since my first attempt didn’t apparently go through. The gist of it was along the lines of a question you asked me – health aside and acknowledging that no one wants you to go through this again, do you feel better as a person, for the experience? From my perspective, you couldn’t possibly be any better than you already are.

    Comment by Ken Shapiro — October 18, 2011 @ 10:56 pm | Reply

  5. As always … well said, well said.

    Comment by Peter — November 14, 2011 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

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