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when is the first year?

ramona41's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: Jul 2004

Hi all..was wondering when do you start counting. being cancer free? after the tumor is removed? after treatments? I had a tumor removed and so far..knock on wood nothing has returned..I thought I would start counting the day after the tumor was removed.. so then this july of this year would be a year cancer freee? am I right?? guess its silly I am thankful for everyday I have.. but you know the big hoo hoo about the five year mark.. so let me know when do you start counting? I will start counting with my blessings..hmmm kids..family.. job..friends.. the ocean.. tim mcgraw in tight jeans.. whoaaa okay where was I..ha!! love ya like cake.. ramona41

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Ramona,
I have had the same question in my mind. I had my tumor and 1 positive node removed in Nov of 03, and finished my 6 months of chemo in July of 04. My onc says that they begin counting at the end of chemo treatment, so I am, in onc's counting, now 1 year out. I do know that some folks start counting from surgery on, which, I guess is reserved for people who did not receive chemo? Looking forward to hearing from others, and, in the meantime, being thankful for having gotten this far, no matter how I count! I agree that counting our blessings is a fine place to start. Judy

Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Ramona -

I'm new to this too - good question.

In my case I had surgery to remove my tumor on 6/7 of this year. But my CT shows one 1-cm met to the liver (biopsied during surgery and confirmed positive). So, I won't feel good about starting "the count" until I have a negative PET/CT - next one scheduled for 8/26, so let's hope. (Even then they may do a liver resection, so maybe I should wait until then.)

Be interested in what others say. "NED" is a hard guy to pin down!


alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

This is interesting...my husband's oncologist counts the date of surgery as start of being free of cancer. I hope others post. I agree that every day is a blessing!


kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

I started the 5 year "countdown" from the first scans and bloods done immediately following my final chemo session.
cheers, kanga n Jen

littlejulie's picture
Posts: 311
Joined: Mar 2004

My mom had her stage 3 tumor removed in July 8th 2004. That is the date I consider her CANCER FREE! A lot of people start the 'cancer free count' the day treatment (chemo) had ended but I prefer the date of surgery because it adds months on the count. We consider July 8th a birthday in my family.

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

The studies that made up the five year rule start counting from the end of the initial phase of treatment. If that ended with surgery- start then- if at chemo, start then. Teh truth is it is a bit arbitrary and the relatioship wetween length of time free and likelihood of recurrence is not a simple linear relatioship. Some oncologists are now considering using three years free as being considered out of the woods as most recurrences actually occur within that time. As others have said it is more about appreciating every day, living our lives despite this spectre hanging over our shoulders and as Lisa Rose says- hugging and loving our kids (or who ever happens to be around att he time).

Lisa Rose's picture
Lisa Rose
Posts: 597
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi All,

My surgeon told me that I can start counting from the date of my surgery because that's when the cancer was officially removed...
So I've been counting since March 20, 2002.

Sending lots of love & hugs to all, and remember if you can't Hug the one you want. Hug the one your with.......

Baby Lisa

Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2004

I believe the 5 year mark is a bit arbitrary. My oncologist said it is from the 1st day that you are disease free. Since tghe preoperative chemoradiation knocked out my cancer, he actually predated my surgery by about a month for my 5 year date. However, as Steve said, if you make it throught the 1st 3 (or even 2) years without trouble, you are in good shape. I know that does not help the people waiting for those dates, but at least it shrinks the super anxiety period. I found that getting my body back in good shope helped pass those first 2-3 years by quickly. I figured that I had little or no control over cancer, but I had control over my life and my body's physical status. I kept it as helathy as I could without being a complete nut. Ran, lifed wieghts, rode my bike. The activity helped pass the time and helped me sleep and LOOK healthy, whcih always impresses people who know you survived cancer. Yeah, I'm a little vain after cancer...I look prety good for someone who almost didn't make it through treatment, and I rejoice in that! I say 5 years form surgery, if surgery went well, should do it for you. Good luck...and livestrong!

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hii ramona!

I start counting from the day of dx August 6, 2001!

that day will live in infamy forever in my life.

Since I didn't do any chemo I can't use that date and since my "treatments" continue to this day with diet and juicing and exercise yada yada yada I can't use that....so I don't even take it from the day of my surgery. But you choose and go from there.

What date is seared in your memory? much like a wedding or a birth. the day I saw my tumor on the colonoscopy screen was the day I started "living".

peace, emily who is 4 years out and counting the days!!

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Ramona,
I had the same question. I had presurgical chemoradiation, then surgery, then chemo....My surgeon said to count from surgery date -- so that it what I have done. But, it is a little abitrary. In truth, I like to use every available opportunity to celebrate!! The anniversary of my diagnosis is bittersweeet, but an important date for me. And one thing I love about this board is vicariously celebrating along with everyone else's anniversaries!!
Best wishes,

hillby's picture
Posts: 31
Joined: Jun 2005

Hi Ramona,

I can tell you this......

I will be calling Byron cancer free at the EARLIEST point possible!!!! I am waiting for dear old NED to show up - I know he's on his way, buit he has been VERY busy lately - GOD BLESS HIM!!


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