1 in 8 Is Not Every Woman’s Risk

I’m not sure why I didn’t fully understand the whole 1 in 8 thing before this week, but, clearly, I did not. Because when my friend who happens to spend his days hunting down a cure for cancer told me that the 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer is a lifetime risk and not a risk for every woman at every age, I was sorta shocked. And way relieved.

My friend directed me to the National Cancer Institute, where I located some facts about the often-thrown-around statistic, and here is what I learned:


If you are 30 years old, you have a 1 in 233 chance of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years, a 1 in 54 chance in the next 20 years, a 1 in 24 chance in the next 30 years, and a 1 in 8 chance in your lifetime.

Did I have a 1 in 8 chance at age 34? Nope. I still got the disease, yes (which means I’m pretty unlucky, I guess), but my chances were not as great as one might believe.

Now, your risk does increase as you age (because, as my friend told me, cancer is mostly a disease of older people), but, still, even a 70-year-old woman has a 1 in 27 chance of getting breast cancer in the next 10 years. Not 1 in 8.

I am not here to minimize in any way the fact that breast cancer strikes far too many women of all ages, and I realize there are risk factors that change the odds listed above, but, I do appreciate a little perspective.

And now, I have some.

The First Two Months

This is pretty much what happens in the two months following a breast cancer diagnosis:

  • Mammogram.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Needle-guided biopsy.
  • Echo heart scan.
  • Full-body PET scan.
  • MRI.
  • Muga heart scan.
  • BRCA genetic testing.
  • Numerous blood tests.
  • Portacath inserted in my chest.
  • 3 rounds of chemo.
  • 2 bone marrow generating Neulasta injections.
  • Hair loss.
  • Insomnia.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Bloating/weight gain.
  • Migraines.
  • Appointments with cardiologists, oncologists, oncology surgeons for my future mastectomy, plastic surgeons for future reconstruction.
  • Too many prescriptions to name.
  • Menopause … fun times.

That could so be my list (except for the PET scan and the mastectomy and plastic surgeon appointments).

But, it’s not.

It belongs to¬†Angela over at It Is What It Is. (That’s her in the pic.)

Angela, 31 years old and mom to a daughter and twin boys, is in the midst of treatment right now, and if you are, too, or you are about to be, or you just want to follow someone amazing who is tackling life despite its hurdles, you really should go visit this spunky gal (who also happens to be giving away a Bondi Band headband).

I think you won’t regret getting to know Angela.

I know I don’t.