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Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'm Not a Statistic

Stage IIIc Ovarian Cancer... that was the official diagnosis, back in July, when I had surgery. Do a Google on that and you'll get loads of webpages. At first I didn't read them. I followed one school of thought which I'll lightly call, the Ostrich School of Head in Sand. I didn't want to know the statistics and I didn't need to know because I was busy enough having major abdominal surgery and recovering and then chemotherapy took over my life and focus for a good while but now what? What's next? EVERYBODY is asking me that. It's a very obvious question. So, am I done? Have I earned my freedom? Did I pass?

First, I officially graduated from the Ostrich School and if you can't handle knowing, please skip this entire blog post. I'm serious. Don't read it! For those who want to know, according to about 3 in 4 women with ovarian cancer live for at least 1 year after diagnosis. Almost half (46%) of women with ovarian cancer are still alive at least 5 years after diagnosis. Between 70% and 90% of all women with ovarian cancer, at some point, have a recurrence. Women with advanced (stage 3 and 4) ovarian cancer tend to have multiple relapses and undergo several rounds of chemotherapy. For women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the risk of recurrence varies based on multiple factors, including the stage at diagnosis. About 68% of women diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer, who had successful surgical outcomes, will have recurrence at some point. [Citation: Ovarian Cancer National Alliance ( and SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2005, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, Md.,]. If ovarian cancer is found (and treated) before the cancer has spread outside the ovary, the 5-year survival rate is 94%. However, only 15% of all ovarian cancers are found at this early stage. Please stop asking me if it was caught early and treated...  No. Stage IIIC is advanced, spread, and the 5-year survival rate for what I had is 35%. Now you know. 

I met with my surgeon yesterday. I asked him if he thought I was cured and he said, no. ...But but but I was NED (no evidence of disease)! He explained that due to his actually having been inside my body during the surgery and his having a vast amount of experience he hopes that I'm cured but the reality is most cases like mine relapse. I appreciate his honesty. You might be asking or want to ask me why I'm writing about this? Because, I want everyone who comes in contact with me to know. This is why I'm not having a party to celebrate the end of chemo. This is why I'm happy yet careful. I'm celebrating and I'm thankful and yet I'm not going to take anything for granted. It's wonderful to live each day as a brand new day... coined, "Living Sincerely" by wise cancer survivors. Excited to be alive and planning a bright future yet still very aware and mindful of my reality. It's fragile.  I've graduated from having sand in my eyes and ears. I'm fully aware of my situation and that's bringing me to a very safe and happy place... closer to G-d and closer to my family and friends. It's okay.

What's next? That depends. It's impossible to plan these things... (I give you permission to laugh). I decided early on to live on the assumption that I am not only lucky but miraculous. I'm not a statistic because, like I've said before, you're either 100% alive or 100% dead and I know which one I'm choosing if anyone asks. I have a LOT of work to do. Staying alive is a full time job. Breath in. Breath out. I choose happiness! Whether it's for 1 year or 100... I choose to live each day as happy and meaningful as I can make it... for me.


  1. Oh,erika. I will be praying and dreaming for if not hundred atleast sixty:) hang in there. You will be miraculous. Love!

  2. May I ask how it brings you closer to Gd? I dont understand. Sorry if that is a dumb or offensive question.

    1. My closeness with G-d comes from what I feel in my heart and soul... and is therefore not objective or measurable by anyone but me. I have complete faith that this Journey is G-d given. Whether I live for one more year or one hundred years... I accept that. Acceptance is a HUGE part of being happy. True happiness comes from the ability to accept and even embrace anything that G-d sends my way.

  3. hi erika !
    s**t. I did NOT know that. breathe in, breathe out, live deeply, completely, and keep on going, my strong warrior princess!

  4. About not being a statistic. I met a woman recently who lost a daughter to a form of cancer (not yours) that was highly curable and was caught early. All the "statistics" were great, and that's what they kept telling her and her family. But she didn't make it. You are who you are, you aren't a statistic. I feel privileged that our paths keep touching and turning out to have all sorts of things in common. Mysterious and silly things. I don't understand God's methods or plans, but that doesn't have to stop me from sensing them, enjoying them and, at times, railing against them.

  5. Our prayers here at are with you.

  6. Am so glad I started following this blog. I don't even know how I got to it, but it is inspirational. I will be rooting for you.

    Regarding statistics: we are constantly defying statistics. The chance of the sperm that makes up half of who I am getting to the egg that makes up the other half is miniscule, yet I'm here last time I checked. Keep on defying those stats.

  7. I love discovering and rediscovering these comments... Thank you so much for your loving support!