As I begin to approach my 5 year cancerversary, I, as usual, am starting to freak out a bit. This September will be HUGE for me. September 1st will mark the 5th consecutive year that I have been cancer-free. I know all survivors count from different dates- but I count from the first day I finished treatment. Back in 2006/2007, I went through almost 9 months of chemo, + one month of radiation... or tomotherapy if you want to get fancy :) My radiation was like the home-stretch. I heard it wasn't as bad as chemo- and it wasn't. It wasn't easy either, but I counted down each day. September 1st was the first day I didn't have any more treatment ahead of me. It was the most amazing day that I had experienced at that point in my life. It's kind of bittersweet though waiting for September's arrival. I keep thinking about everything, and I've been thinking too much lately. I still have a bit of survivor's guilt- sounds crazy, but I don't get why I was ok and other people were not. I still feel like it was yesterday when I was told I had lymphoma and I can't believe all this time has flown by. Have I accomplished enough since then? Have I overworked myself? Have I not taken good enough care of myself? Those thoughts are flooding my mind all the time. As you all know, I dread my check-ups. I always assume the worst. I'm not a pessimist, by nature, only by cancer? I always think "I was a perfectly healthy 22 year old and BAM, they found it." Why couldn't I be a perfectly happy 28 year old, and BAM, it's back? I struggle everyday not to think those things, but I do it to prepare myself. Nobody understands it quite like another survivor. It's always looming. It's dark and scary and I have to keep it under control. Perhaps Chris deals with the worst of it, but I wouldn' t be able to get through it without him. But, most people don't understand.
This time though, I'm taking a new approach to this upcoming date. I always say that I'm going to do something really special to celebrate, and this year I really am. I may throw myself a party or take a last minute vacation- not sure yet. I am scheduled for my tests on August 10th- in a couple weeks. I usually get the PT Scan + blood work, but doc decided to change it up on me this time..... So I'm getting a CT Scan. I know there are big differences between the two- but in my mind- the difference is what you drink. Yeh, the cocktail. PT Scan's give me this delightful metallic lemonade. CT Scans give me this delightful berry-flavored chalk-goo that is the consistency of Elmer's glue. I obviously prefer the lemonade. Whatever. I just took the day off for that appointment. I mean, would you want to be sitting at your desk pretending not to be afraid your life is going to end while sipping on Elmer's glue??? Nahh. I took off that Friday, and we're leaving for our annual Wimbiscus Michigan trip that night.... Which is perfect timing. I see my doc for results when I get back from the trip. I made sure that that yucky in-between time where I'm freaking out, breaking out in hives, not sleeping, not eating, crying, worrying, will be spent on a gorgeous beach with my family. That way, I'm forced to have a good time. I look at it like "if the universe decided my cancer is coming back, at least I get this great vacation before the news, and I WILL enjoy it. If it does come back and I have to do treatment, I will treat myself to an even better vacation afterwards". That is just how it will be.
I don't think it will ever get easier- and believe me, I ask every survivor I meet. I've talked to people younger then me to people in their 80's. Every single survivor said that the fear never goes away, but it does get easier.
What have you done to celebrate your cancerversaries? I may need some amazing suggestions...