Stable (boy) is Ned’s new friend

Posted February 10th, 2009 by Jane

There is of course so much to say about the language of cancer. I saw this message on a US site and instantly knew what it might almost be used for my latest ‘not much news’ news.

NED is what we cancer patients all aspire to. NED means No Evidence of Disease…its the phrase used among cancer medics and patients to replace that older more familiar term ‘remission’. It means that on scans and in tests your cancer has disappeared or isn’t there…but you’re pretty sure that it will return somtime..perhaps soon. NED replaces ‘all clear’ in breastcancerworld (though some women after primary breast cancer get very angry indeed about their right to proclaim themselves ‘all clear’) because with breast cancer its impossible ever really to say ‘all clear’…even after the statistical 5 year watershed cancer can recur.

Sometimes women with breast cancer secondaries do achieve NED. ..after good responses to hormonal treatments or herceptin, or sometimes, though less often, to chemotherapy. I’ve not been NED since the discovery of my recurrence nearly 2 years ago. I live with active cancer…no one’s friend.

So if you can’t manage NED you go for ’stable’ and feel jolly pleased. Stable means that on tests and scans your cancer isn’t better but it isn’t any worse either. If you’ve had a time of rapid progression, believe me that stable is better than nothing. I saw my oncologist yesterday who agrees with me that on clinical evidence (which is not the same as scan evidence) some of my lumps are getting smaller and softer…some aren’t but they don’t feel bigger either. So I might be ’stable’ and we’ll go for another cycle of chemotherapy before scanning in March.

Of course stable often doesn’t hang around for long…the moment chemotherapy stops cancer grows again…sometimes faster than before as though making up for lost time. But I still know why stable is Ned’s new friend.