Another cancer-versary season is underway.
I was diagnosed in March 2012, finished treatment in February 2013 and was declared cancer-free in May 2013.
Last year, I marked the third anniversary of my diagnosis with great celebration: Seeds of Happiness for my co-workers, Magpies cakes for my medical teams, ran and walked the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon with dear friends in person and in my heart, and dinners with the lovely Sarah.
This year’s round of anniversaries will be more subdued. Three years was a big deal and five years will be a blowout because the imminent Dr. Gregory Midis, my surgeon, said five years absolutely will be worth celebrating. My risk of recurrence will plummet and I will be in the clear, relatively speaking.
So, this is year four.
This anniversary season will have its moments: I will compete in my second Spartan Sprint four years and a day after the New Orleans Marathon where things went a little awry intestinally speaking, and Easter Sunday is my diagnosis anniversary. And there will be requisite follow up visits with my doctors; I see Dr. Midis this week.
I’d like to think there will come a time when I don’t have to mark the anniversaries, when I can get through a day without remembering that I had cancer, but the colostomy bag on my abdomen and the neuropathy in my feet are constant reminders.
Still, the horror of diagnosis is long past. I mark the anniversaries less for remembering the bad parts and more for reminding myself and others of the good that happened. I have the love of an amazing caregiver, I have the love and support of some of the most incredible friends I have ever known, and words of gratitude flow through my brain and out of my mouth for every day that I’m alive to continue to receive all of that love and support.
The anniversaries will come. The worry of recurrence is still present, but this year I’ll hold my breath and keep moving forward.
I’m still here, I’m loved and I’m grateful for all of it.