My one-year “cancerversary” was this past Saturday, February 5, 2011. A cancerversary 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.
I forgot all about it. I didn’t intend to forget but it’s not exactly a celebratory day anyway. More like “I can’t believe I made it through this past year” day. A laugh, cry, freak-out, whatever day.
That day, we took the kids to the very cool Mock Surgery Day at University Medical Center Brackenridge, which had a dozen stations set up with hospital staff and mannequins. Using actual medical equipment (and some candy as a proxy for body parts), the kids got to perfect their techniques in laparascopic surgery, heart surgery, brain surgery, spine surgery, learn CPR and how to use an AED. “Bad Luck Larry,” the poor guy in the trauma unit with the red paint and busted leg, was a big hit. Not a bad way to spend a cancerversary that I didn’t remember.
Earlier this year, I was debating which day should be considered my cancerversary. The day I had the pain in my lower right pelvis after a walk? Or the day the doctor showed me the 6.5 cm mass on an ultrasound and CT scan? Or the day the doctor confirmed the cancer after my first surgery?
I decided my cancerversary was going to be February 5th – the day I first saw the mass on the ultrasound and CT scan. That was the day everything came to a standstill and I faced the prospect that I might have cancer. My first surgery 10 days later simply confirmed the malignancy.
But on the flip-side, this date also matters because it’s a measuring stick for being on the planet another year. I’m so grateful that I am still here and relatively healthy because a year ago things were not looking too good. But yet, here I am, a one-year cancer survivor. Wow.
It’s also a marker in time when I began to understand the true meaning of friendship in ACTION. I’m talking about YOU – all the friends and family who have helped us out with meals and errands, who offered words of encouragement or who have been there just to listen this past year. Thanks to my family for sticking with me on my cranky days. Thank you, thank you.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. – Thornton Wilder
I feel very much alive. Anyone for a piece of chocolate cake?