How Do You Mark Your Cancerversary?

My Post (74)

Checking my blog analytics recently, I came across this question.

How do you celebrate the end of chemotherapy?

It got me thinking about the topic of cancerversaries and marking milestones in cancer.

Cancerversary –a term coined by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) – “…might be the day that a loved one was diagnosed. It might be your last day of treatment. It might even be several important dates that occur throughout someone’s cancer journey.” (NCCS)

The first year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I marked the date, and for several years after I did the same, marveling at the time that had passed. I remember so vividly each stage in my journey through treatment – the shock of the day of diagnosis, the pain after surgery, the grief of coming to terms with a radically altered body, the debilitating nausea that accompanied chemotherapy, and the unrelenting exhaustion of radiotherapy – memories etched indelibly in my mind.  But for the past 7 years, I have no longer marked any cancerversaries. Instead, there are sadder times to mark – the anniversary of my mother’s death, her birthday, Mother’s Day, and also the pain of multiple miscarriages and failed fertility treatments – the legacy of infertility after cancer.

And yet when I read blogs of others who are celebrating cancerversaries, I rejoice alongside them, while also knowing that there are those among you, for whom a cancerversary is not a time to “celebrate”.  It may be a time filled with sadness, anger, grief, and fear. And our hearts too are heavy with thoughts of those beloved sisters we have lost to this disease along the way.

I’d like to end this post by sharing some of the ways in which I marked my own cancerversary in the past and I would love to hear more from you on this topic in the comments below.

  • Go for a mindful walk in nature.
  • Journal or blog your thoughts.
  • Treat yourself to something special.
  • Make a donation to a charity of your choice.
  • Set a meaningful goal for the upcoming year.
  • Light a candle for someone you lost.

Over To You

When and how do you mark a significant milestone in your cancer journey?