For the past few years, March 3rd has been designated as Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness day. When I had a recurrence it was the first time I found out about Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). I had kept some interest in the latest research on breast cancer but wasn’t as passionate as in the early years after diagnosis and had moved on with my life. On trying to find out more about this subtype of breast cancer, I was overwhelmed by all the negative articles on the disease and thought that my luck had run out. Thankfully common sense kicked in and I realised that I probably had TNBC in 1999 but HER2 wasn’t discovered at that stage. As I began to think coherently once again I vowed that once I felt well again I would try and improve the experiences of people like me with such a diagnosis. I try not to think too much about the future because I, like most of you, have learned that it is utterly futile.
So why is there a day specifically for Triple Negative Breast Cancer? Simply because at present there are no targeted therapies for TNBC. Most of these tumours have a high grade and are aggressive. Recurrence can happen relatively soon after treatment for primary TNBC is completed. Anxiety with regard to fear of recurrence is normal after any type of breast cancer, but with TNBC it is compounded by not having any more options with regard to preventative medications when treatment is finished. On the plus side, from reading various articles, there seems to be a commitment by the researchers in trying to find out the nature of this kind of tumour and finding ways to target it. Most notably Immunotherapy seems to be creating some positive results recently.
On this day I reflect on all the women who have died because of this disease, whose families feel the huge, irreplaceable void left in their lives. I also reflect on those of us who are grateful to be well and relatively healthy again, of the guilt we sometimes feel for being well when others are not so fortunate. SHARE Cancer Support kindly asked me to write a piece for them on living well with TNBC and thinking of the future. I try not to think too much about what the future may bring me and live and enjoy what I have right now.
The more people become aware of this disease and donate towards such important research, we may become a step closer to improving the outcomes for the future of many women.