Second Cancerversary: Mental Gymnastics

Sunday, February 5, 2012 was my second cancerversary.  The day back in 2010 when I had a CT scan that revealed the 6.5 cm mass in my abdomen.  My ob/gyn thought it was probably ovarian cancer but it was not that dreaded disease.  Just a very rare and aggressive cancer: non-mucinous colonic-type appendiceal adeoncarcinoma.  Two years later, I am still on the planet and have no evidence of disease.  Cause for celebration, right?  On my first cancerversary, I was definitely more upbeat.  But this year, I was filled with intense mixed emotions.

My husband and kids woke me up on Sunday morning to breakfast in bed, a candle in an almond croissant and yummy coffee.  They made cards celebrating “Super Mom,”  “Happy 2nd Cancerversary,”  “in awe of your awesomeness,” and “Congrats on another year on the planet.”  Wow!  They were so excited that I had made it through two more years.

At the same time I was enjoying their happiness for me, it was very surreal to be celebrating the day my life changed forever.  It was the second anniversary of the day that a horrible invader interrupted my life and I began an incredible fight to avoid disaster.  Was this day to be celebrated or dreaded?  All day, my thoughts tossed back and forth between extreme thankfulness for another year of living and the fear and anguish that this cancer might return.  I alternated between trying to be light so I could spend a quality day with my family and heavy seriousness and worry about the future.

Will I be here to help my kids have all the tools they need to make it in life?  Through middle school, high school and college?  Through relationships?  Will I be able to grow old with my husband?  Am I bumming out my whole family?  Worry and anxiety have become my off-and-on companions.  But I’m finding that they can be moved out of the way when I turn my thoughts back to gratitude for my life RIGHT NOW.  I am grateful for having the luxury to see what life will bring next.

Needless to say, I was performing some mental gymnastics on my second cancerversary.  I probably will have these mixed emotions every time this date rolls around.  But that’s OK.  Because in spite of the gymnastics, I know I will always land on my feet.

4 thoughts on “Second Cancerversary: Mental Gymnastics

  1. Ivanna, we’re so glad you’re still here on good old planet Earth with us, too! And that we’re still here, too! Emotions can be tricky things–that’s why I try to avoid them as much as possible! Which is probably why my appendix went South on me!

    After what you’ve been through these past two years, you have the right to feel exactly however you want to feel! Whether or not it bums out your loved ones is not really your problem! It’s who you are and we accept you and love you for you and for your brave and courageous soul and your continued generosity in sharing your thoughts and feelings with the rest of us–it helps us to know that we’re not the only ones experiencing the paradox of extreme gratitude for our continued existence on this beautiful planet of ours inextricably mixed in with the very real dread of the possible premature return of the Grim Reaper, who we know in our minds we all must meet eventually, but we’d much rather it be much later than sooner!

    I’m very confident that you’ll be around long enough to see your wonderful daughters successfully launched from the nest and long enough for you and Doug to grow very old together, playing with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and making sure they all have their appendices removed as soon as possible! Love, Randy and Caroline

  2. It does seem a challenge to find ways to mark the days our liives come undone, whether a life changing diagnosis, a death, a natural disaster or fire. We remember the horror and shock, surely don’t celebrate that. I guess what we celebrate is having come through. And for me there is something about honoring my own pain at the terrible event, the suffering, as well as the strength of coming through. These hard anniversaries do remind me that terrible things can and will happen and that I have some choice about how I respond to them, sometimes with results worth celebrating.

  3. Pingback: Third Cancerversary and More « One Rogue Cell

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