Seven Year Cancerversary

Seven years ago today, I received the call saying that I had breast cancer.  In some ways, that day seems like a lifetime ago, as so much has changed since then.  In other ways, it seems like it was very recent, and the scars from the surgery and radiation tattoos remind me daily of my induction into this club.  

Unlike wedding anniversaries, there are no traditional gifts for a seventh cancerversary, at least none that I could find.  It made me curious, though, about the traditional gifts for a seventh wedding anniversary.  It turns that they are copper and wool.  While I am not in need of either one, I am going to adopt their symbolism for this cancerversary.

My research found that copper represents love and protection.  Wool, in contrast, represents comfort and warmth.  As I look back on these last seven years, I am grateful for the people in my life who have provided me with love, protection, comfort, and warmth on this journey.  There are too many people to list individually, and some people’s names, such as some of the medical personnel who treated me, I don’t even know.  I do know that I would not be here without them and am indebted to them forever.

I also am extremely grateful for the love, warmth, protection, and comfort that I have been able to provide to others these past seven years. One of the most heart-wrenching moments was when I had to tell my two daughters, who were fourteen and twelve years old, respectively, that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Watching them cry and seeing the fear on their faces was so painful, especially when my oldest daughter shared that a number of girls in her class had lost their mothers and that she did not want to lose me.  I did not want them to lose me, either, and all I wanted to do was to love, protect, and comfort them.  

As I look back on these past seven years, it astounds me how much has changed.  I now am cancer-free, and I graduated to annual oncology appointments.  I still have intermittent anxiety attacks related to the fear of a recurrence and moments of survivor’s guilt, especially having lost my two badass friends, Michelle and Kristene, to cancer.  I suspect that the fear and guilt will always be lurking beneath the surface, and I am learning to deal with them whenever they come up for air.

Overall, though, I feel immense gratitude for surviving and thriving since that day seven years ago.  I bought my first ever home on my own, and I switched jobs and, later, careers. I fell in love and remarried and became a step-mom to five incredible children.  I have been able to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, and other milestones and life events of our children and my own.  Ordinary things in life no longer seem so mundane, and I am just so happy to be here for it.  All of it. 

So, here’s to these past seven years and to the year to come.  Breast cancer is just one part of my life, not my whole life, and I have A LOT of life left to live!

#breastcancer #breastcancersurvivor #breastcancerawarenessmonth #cancer #cancerversary #remission #cancerfree 



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