Today is my 4th cancerversary. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do on this day. I didn’t know why I was feeling so anxious. I had a discussion the day before with a friend about what cancerversaries were.
They are a significant day to a cancer survivor. Cancerversaries can be celebrated anytime, anyplace. Some survivors choose the day of diagnosis because, afterall, that is the day they became a survivor. Some choose the day of surgery, some choose the last day of treatment.
But cancerversaries aren’t only a time of celebration and gratitude.. They are a time of reflection. They are a time of remembrance. Cancerversary can be emotionally challenging.
I chose my cancerversary as the day I found my lump. The day I knew deep down that it was cancer. In the past, as each cancerversary approached, I found myself in a more positive mental state. The first year I celebrated with family and friends. I was so excited to hit that 1 year mark. We had a big bbq, there were thank you’s and toasts. A day I will always remember. Year 2, I was still excited but a bit more apprehensive. Year 3, I celebrated quietly with a close friend. It was almost like celebrating felt too good to be true.
A few days ago, I found myself feeling emotional. I tried not to think of the upcoming day. At first I thought maybe it was because I didn’t know how I wanted to celebrate it. I didn’t expect myself to be on the verge of tears as the memories of 4 years ago began to resurface.
When fighting cancer, you go into fight mode, and focus on the treatments. You do everything you need to do to survive. As each treatment takes more away from you, you struggle to make it through. And when you think you don’t have enough fight left in you , you still continue on.
Then one day, it’s over. All the surgeries, all the drugs, all the treatments and tests, all the pain and nausea, are done. Your burns start to heal, your hair starts to grow back, your body starts to get healthy again. You start to move forward. But you take each step with caution because you know cancer is still hanging around, deciding if and when to pounce. So many survivors, who thought they won the fight, are later faced with recurrence and metastasis.
I thought I had processed all of these feelings, but apparently there are still some that are lingering. Or maybe they never fully go away.
So this year I will quietly celebrate because I know I’m lucky to still be here, but many of my friends weren’t so lucky. Today I will honour those I’ve lost to this terrible disease.