It's My Cancerversary and I'll Laugh, Cry, Celebrate, Freak Out If I Want to....
An anniversary commemorates an event that took place on that day in a previous year. Anniversaries are often celebrated as a joyous occasion such as a birthday or a wedding anniversary, but they can also commemorate a tragedy such as the death of a loved one.
Today marks a one year anniversary for me – March 5, 2016, precisely at 11:50 am was the day that I was told I had breast cancer. SUPER GRIM!!! Mind you, I had just had a yearly physical and mammogram in July, I had been eating super clean, and I felt in the BEST physical condition ever. I was happy, excited, and in my mind, there was no way something could be wrong because my life felt GREAT. To my surprise and disbelief, three days later the biopsy results were in - I was diagnosed with breast cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma). On that day, time stopped for a few minutes and the moment will forever be embedded in my memory.
When you are a cancer survivor, you have an additional date that is etched in your memory like your social security number. Your "cancerversary". Like JFK’s assassination or September 11, you’ll never forget where you were or what you were doing when you hear the words, “You have cancer.” I’m one year clear - A one year survivor!
And yet a "cancerversary" is more like a birthday than an anniversary in many ways. It is the day that your life as you knew it ends, and a new life begins. Because no matter what the outcome, life is never the same after a cancer diagnosis. For the last several weeks, I thought about my upcoming cancerversary with a combination of pride, dread, sadness, happiness, and relief. Welcome to life as a cancer survivor.
My cancer diagnosis has changed me and although it’s been the hardest, most terrifying year of my life, it’s also been the most enlightening. I wouldn’t say cancer was a gift because if you ever go through what myself and my cancer friends have gone through, you’d think differently and see it for the cruel monster that it is.
Today I celebrate my first "cancerversary" tentatively, but joyfully. This hybrid of joy and nervousness, or gratitude and anxiety — this is the reality for cancer survivors, and it’s part of what we might call “the new normal.” Today I celebrate that I got to wake up this morning. Thank you God! And that’s enough for me to want to pop a bottle of champagne. Cheers!!!