You CAN Survive Triple Negative Breast cancer

 Written by Patricia Prijatel on her blog, Positives About Negative, and posted on April 11, 2011.

Triple-negative breast cancer has caught the attention of major researchers throughout the world, which is a great thing—it means that we are learning more and more about how to prevent and treat this illness. The downside of the research popularity is that the media and medical journals have developed depressing and frightening catch phrases for it, such as deadly, particularly aggressive or, my favorite, a lethal triad. People who write these words do not realize that they can terrify the women who read them, hitting like a heavy thud on our hearts. Researchers are trying to define the disease. Patients are trying to beat it.

 The aggressive nature of hormone-negative is a comparative measure. That is, these cancers are, in general, more aggressive than hormone-positive cancers—although, in some cases, only slightly more aggressive. And some hormone-negative cancers can actually be less aggressive than some hormone-positive cancers. Scientists work in generalizations, defining how the disease affects women as a group. Individual cases vary and, researchers increasingly say, are as unique as our DNA.

 How researchers classify triple-negative, for example, can vary. My own case—negative for estrogen and her2, but weakly positive for progesterone—puts me in a fairly narrow subset. Yet I had two oncologists tell me that they classify weakly positive as a negative, meaning I would be triple-negative. Researchers disagree, usually considering any level of positive as being positive. It is possible, though, that my weakly positive progesterone put me in a less agressive subset that is so small it is seldom researched.

 So let’s look at some of the data and what they mean. And rather than simply accepting the gloomy picture that is often presented, let’s approach this in the enterprising spirit of yeah, but….

It is true that hormone-negative breast cancers can be more aggressive than hormone-positive. But the majority of women who get the disease survive.

 It is true that most cases of recurrence come within the first three years. But that means that those who hit five years are looking at an excellent prognosis. A better long-term prognosis, in fact, than those with hormone-positive.

 It is true that triple-negative is more likely to have spread to the lymph nodes. But many women with TNBC have no positive nodes—and, if they do, they still beat the disease and survive.

 I have learned to turn statistics around to improve my perspective. For example, when research says that 30 percent of the women with triple negative died in a particular study, I turn this around and realize that 70 percent of the women survived. And I plan to be one of those women. And if, in another study, a triple-negative woman faces a two-fold increased risk of death compared with hormone-positive, I look at the fact that the difference might be between a 10 percent risk of and a 20 percent risk. And, while those decreased odds are startling and sobering, they still can mean an 80 percent chance of not dying. Even starting with a poorer prognosis, the odds can still be with you.

 NOTE: This is an excerpt from the book I am writing on triple-negative breast cancer.


42 Responses to You CAN Survive Triple Negative Breast cancer

  1. Janis Judd says:

    Thank you for this post – I will be looking forward to your book. I was diagnosed Triple Neg 4 years ago this May. So far, so good!

  2. Joyce Smart says:

    Great News!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is the first postive article I have read.

    I have TNBC. So this really made me feel good to read.


    You made my day!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. This is such a great article – thank you for posting this. I have re-posted it on my website (I hope that is ok) because what you have written about TNBC is clear AND honest. Please post something on the TNBC site when your book is available – I cannot wait.

    Thanks so much for shining a positive light on TNBC !

  4. Vickie says:

    Thank you for the ‘glass is half full’ view of surviving TNBC. One of the oncologists I interviewed before beginning treatment told me “some people survive this”. I walked out and didn’t look back.
    Looking forward to your book!

  5. Tracy says:

    yes something positive about triple neg. i am a survivor of TNBC going on three years now!! GLORY BE!

  6. Bonnie Schut says:

    Patricia! I just passed the 3 Year TNBC “Free” mark and am so happy to read something Positive About Negative! You Go Girl! Sending Cheers!!!!

  7. I will be marking four years clear in September…Thank you for sharing some positive insights for us ‘negative’ gals….

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m 25 and I was diagnosed yesterday with triple negative breast cancer. I’m scared but like you look at the plus side of the statistics. Again thank you.

  9. Zenitha Etinoff says:

    Thank you for this post. You are right in saying a positive outlook, helps a lot when faced with this disease. I am a triple negative breast cancer patient and 32 years old with no family history. I believe 10% to 12% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any family history, which leads me to believe our environment or food we eat can be a contributing factor. I say all of this to say, positive outlook or spin on everything we read and hear helps with the outcome. I am not out of the water but with God, family and friends I have confidence everything will be alright. I pray and hope everything goes well with you.

  10. Nora Breniman says:

    I would like to join the others in thanking you for reminding us of the positives. I am one year out from my TNBC diagnosis-a bit of an oddity (BRAC neg, white and 61) but I plan to be on the positive side of the odds now.I look foreward to your book!

  11. Bonnie says:

    I am now three years out with triple negative,I too was told that three years was a great landmark for triple negative,just when I thought i was all cleared,yesterday my oncoligist suggested i go and get testes for negative or positive (Brac)a three thousand dollar test,kind of wndering what to do about this.No family hisoty of this cancer,could I be the first?

  12. Thank you Patricia.I am a stage 2,node negetive TNBC patient with high ki67,3months,28days out from my treatment.I used to see the dark side of the disease always before reading you.But now I have learnt to see it as you shown in your article

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  14. Hi,
    Thanks for shearing your idea and its a awesome site.
    Multiple damaging busts malignancies is definitely a heterogeneous number of cancers. There’s inconsistent details more than prospects for that various subtypes however it seems the Nottingham prognostic index applies and hence common prognosis is pretty related with breast cancer regarding exact same stage, except that much more aggressive treatment solutions are required. Some types of triple negative breast cancer are known to be more aggressive with poor prognosis, although other forms have prognosis very similar or better than hormone receptor optimistic breast cancers. Pooled info of triple unfavorable subtypes suggest that along with optimum remedy 20 year success charges are incredibly near the ones from hormonal good most cancers.

  15. Shannon says:

    Thank you for sharing as I have been diagnosed with tnbc and I had my second treatment today. I look forward to reading your book as I’m really scared that I might not make it there this battle after ready all the negatives that’s out there. Thank you so much…..

    • There are positives out there too Shannon…triple neg is scary and aggressive but I have been meeting so many women that are surviving triple neg – and you AND I are going to be two of them !! Good luck with your treatments…before you know it they will be behind you.

  16. H. says:

    I am also diagnosed with TNBC in May thuis year. all of them negative, i am 28 years old. I have had 2 chemotherapys till now. I hope we all Will survive, i believe and pray more than ever.

  17. mary says:

    This is not to scare anyone out there with tnbc, but I have just been blind sided for the third time in four years. First in 08 again last august and now again this past week with possible mets to bone lung and liver, and im terrified. just wondering if there is anyone out there in my position and how your coping. I have great family support great faith in God and in my drs, but i dont know anyone personally who has this type of bc and its very scary.

    • I do know three women who are currently battling stage 4 trip neg recurrances. One has mets to the lungs, sterum, and liver, one is strickly to the lungs, one is to the brain. They are all in different stages of battling and all on different chemical cocktails. One of them when on a totally raw diet (went to Puerto Rico for the two week body cleanse) and she seems to be doing the best. She has brain mets but her body continues to keep fighting. I am so sorry this has happened to you – trip neg is one tough cancer. I wish they would find something for us like they continue to find for her2+. We need some light and some heavy research and some targeted therapy. Please Mary, stay strong, you know that getting people to pray for you will be a huge part of your battle, and trusting in God to lead your doctors is all any of us can do. If you want to email me I can get you to some others who have trip neg mets and maybe they can help support you as you support them. Please go to my blog at and leave a comment on there. I can email you back privately from there.

  18. mary says:

    thanks Laura for your comments. I have just had a meeting with my surgeon today and am waiting to hear from my onc. whohas been out of town at an onc. conference,next step I guess is a liver biopsy and then who knows? Trying to stay positive but its so scary. Just knowing that there are others out there who are battling the same thing helps. Will be in touch soon. thanks again.

    • Mary, hang in there. Stay strong. Wait for every ounce of information you can get. Remember, in this, knowledge is power. Get your doctor’s opinions, and then do you have access to a free second opinion clinic in your hospitals where you are ? Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge….and lots of prayers for you ! Please contact me when you can.

  19. mary says:

    Laura, just a note to let you know been to see my onc. this morning and feeling a little more confident about things. I’ll be going in next weds. to have a port put in (again) and will start on abraxane and carboplatin on thurs. Dont know much about either one of these drugs but do trust my onc. He is a go-getter. Will be bald again for the third time, maybe its time for tatoo on my head. My daughter would be proud, as she is a tatoo junkie, having six and looking for more. anyway, thanks for your support and prayers and prayers to you and anyone else out there that needs them. Also a bit of good news-onc. doesnt think it has mets to the lung,but only a relatively small lesion in the liver, although they called it intense activity, who knows what that means? Any way im off to the beach friday for my 54 birthday and to get ready for next week I guess you could call it a vacation but all my kids will be there, and im still mom, so i dont know how much of a rest it will be…will be in contact soon-Mary

    • Shan says:

      You can beat this Mary. Ever since I read your post, you have been in my prayers. Just remember this too will pass and it will and you will be fine. Don’t go to the dark places, breathe deeply and take care of yourself and all will be well.

  20. mary says:

    thank-you for all your prayers, Shan-will go in on thursday for my port and if all goes well with that, I will do chemo that day also. Trying to stay away frm neg. people energy etc…but getting scared again. Fear is a debilitating thing sometimes. But i am fighting and will continue to do so. Thanks again.

    • Shan says:

      You need your NK cells actively firing so just remember to take things moment by moment. When we give into the fear, the NK cells don’t do what they need to do which is fight! You are right, fear is debilitating and that’s what you don’t want to do – debilitate yourself. You are alive and breathing and with each breath know that you can and will beat this. Don’t read statistics and put too much weight on that. Put everything that you have read and heard out of your mind (that’s where the fear comes from), Just focus on getting better. Take care of yourself in every way and continue to take a good amount of Vit. D3, Omega 3 (from a good fish oil source), and look into modified citrus pectin – you can learn about it on the Livestrong site. Also look into a product called Breast Defend formulated by Isaac Eliaz. You can google him and he has come up with some really great products. I just saw a doc yesterday and I had many imbalances which could have contributed to my bc. Though we are all different, I am more than happy to share what I am learning during this journey. Always in my prayers and extra ones on Thursday for you.

  21. mary says:

    I really dont read negative things about tnbc, I try to stay away from all that stuff. Taking good vitamins plus bunches of shitake mushrooms that my brothers grows. I also have two sisters who practice jin shin jitzu which helps with flows and such. thanks for your suggestions and prayers, I will also check out those products.

  22. mary says:

    am on my way in a.m for port and chemo…need all the prayers you all can send my way…

    • Shan says:

      You certainly have mine, Mary and I am going to pray for you just as soon as I log off. Get a good night’s sleep and keep on thinking good thoughts and you WILL get through this.

  23. mary says:

    port placement went well but waited on chemo till this far so good, just to much to do in one day. Feeling pretty well so far. thanks for all prayers coming my way.

    • Shan says:

      Good to hear and it will continue to go well – take things one moment at a time as you are doing. Pretty soon all of this will also be a distant memory. Praying for you always, Mary. Enjoy the weekend.

  24. mary says:

    a little more sicky off this chemo than others in the past, but all is going fairly well. will see if I can change chemo days from friday to monday so i will feel ok on the week-ends. this is the first time ive had to do chemo every week tho, except the short time i was on xeloda last year. couldnt take it tho, got hand and foot syndrom(sp) really bad, but we’ll see. Any one ever hear about the bursinsky(sp) clinic in texas?

  25. mary says:

    Have to tell somebody! Bloodwork came back today, It was the best its been in four years! Happy day. Thanks for all your prayers…

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  29. Vicki says:

    Stay positive. I was diagnosed with tnbc 1 1/2 years ago and am doing well. Keep in mind the prognosis is much better if you have had no lymph node involvement, but many others have done very well even with some node involvement.

  30. Berta Filut says:

    I just finished my treatments on July 9, 2013. My understanding of the type of cancer that I had was 0. I thank God that I had not read up on it because I believe that I would not have fought as hard as I did if I would have know all the negative information on TNBC. I have what I consider some of the best doctors that can be found in South Texas. Compassionate, caring and not afraid to show their faith in God and his healing powers. I finished my chemo and tests came back “in remission”. I have had several surgeries and just underwent a radical mastectomy. I have lupus and radiation was not an option. I had the support and spiritual support of 4 wonderful doctors, my oncologists’ wife was diagnosed with TNBC one week before me and now 8 months later my anesthesiologists’ wife has also been diagnosed with the same. We all talk about our faith and have all agreed how God puts people in each others paths at the end of this part of my life who would have know that all of us were going to have so much in common. Your article is what I needed right now and I plan to purchase your book. Through God all things are possible maybe soon a cure for Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

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  32. Mariya says:

    Hello,my dear!TNBC in may 2018,during pregnancy.I had operation and 8 chemotherapies(4 of them during pregnancy).Now I have wonderful,healthy son. I am ok too.Thank you SO SO MUCH for your blog and information-you made my day,i was so afraid of information about TNBC ,bur after your notices i feel happier myself.Thank you!I will pray for you!Thank you,GOD for Patricia!

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