Cancerversary: For most people, the anniversary of the day she was diagnosed with cancer. Because every woman’s experience and decisions around a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are so different — some jump headfirst into being a breast cancer advocate, some prefer to keep their situation private, and all experiences in between — we were curious about cancerversaries. So our community moderators asked the wonderful people in our Discussion Boards: How do you celebrate?
“It is a day like any other. I note, in passing, that it’s been another year and then I just keep moving forward. No celebration needed, as I already have the best gift: I’m still alive.”
“I usually don’t celebrate it, but might mention it to my sister or post about it on a thread on BCO.”
“This year I celebrated my one year cancerversary with my family. My husband gave me a dozen roses and then the 5 of us went out to dinner. Pretty simple celebration but much appreciated.”
“For the first time, this year my cancerversary came and went without my realizing it! It has been three and a half years since my diagnosis. My celebration is a full life back on track, no matter what the future holds. I also celebrate my gift of life by focusing on the women who are in treatment so they are never alone.”
“I know the philosophy behind celebrating a cancerversary, but I just can’t jump on board. The day I learned of my initial biopsy findings was a day filled with shock, fear, and foreboding. I do not celebrate it. On both the anniversaries of October 20, 2011, I spent a few moments reflecting on how much I’ve learned about myself through this hand-to-hand combat, and how happy I am to be alive. Then I get on with my day.”
“Give thanks, and hope for another year.”
“This past September was a year since my mastectomy which followed with chemo and radiation. I wanted to give back to all of my family, friends and neighbors who supported me through my journey so I invited everyone to my house. In addition to the great food which I prepared, I wrote a personal thank you note to all! Even my beloved Sheba got a personal thank you! We all enjoyed the food and company plus some of my guests were meeting each other for the first time. I plan to make this a yearly event!”
“I celebrated the last two very quietly. The first one was a mountain climb and the second was a very long multi-miles hike. I’m afraid to celebrate outwardly–I guess I’m too superstitious.”
“I would celebrate the cancerversary of the 1st mx (10/24/96) with so much joy that I was still here. Gradually, I forgot the exact date and just remembered it was in October. The 2nd mx was 10/31/12 – Halloween! The nurses were wearing funny headbands and jewelry. Told them I didn’t want to wake up to angels or devils! It will be difficult to ever forget the date again.”
“I just passed my 1st year Anniversary without any celebration, just reflecting on how fast the past year flown and how much my life has changed since that mammogram call back, but surprisingly, not in a bad way.
“I’ll be forever grateful for the wonderful Technicians who have come into my life, and for the latest technology that discovered and then biopsied my “problem” and then my SNB. To the Surgeon and the Medical team who gave me options, and then followed my wishes, taking great care of me and keeping me informed when my results came in. Then giving me a long term plan to follow.
“I have felt a shift, I know I’ll never be the same person that stumbled into this, a year ago, but I have learned so much along the way, and this site has been instrumental in getting me through some fearful times. I appreciate being able to ‘Pay it Forward’!”
“We planted a peach tree. I explained to everyone that it meant I was hopeful that I would be around to harvest the fruit. It seemed fitting to me. Might just plant something every year as a way to celebrate.”
“I celebrate everything cancer related with a big old middle finger to it! I know that isn’t inspiring, but it makes me feel really good.”
“I don’t. Having been diagnosed with a second breast cancer 19 years after my first, I know that as breast cancer survivors we are never out of the woods. The celebration will start the day we learn how to prevent or cure this disease for good.”
“I celebrate every single day that I am here, got through cancer, and onto a wonderful new phase of my life. Last year’s adventure was vineyard camping, something I never would have done prior to my move to Seattle. I think my one year’s was a friends’ moving party where I was the only one who showed up to help.
“My next milestone will be the five year mark, and not sure what adventure I will choose. Since it’s Labor Day, I will pick something for that weekend. It could be back to the vineyard, but with better camping gear.
“I celebrate my birthday even more, since these are ones that would not have happened otherwise. I have a major one coming up a year from February, and I am thinking about hut skiing. Notice that I will be able to burn off anything I consume, and I will need to carry in whatever food I choose to have.
“I celebrated doing today’s [rainy] ride by having TWO croissants at the bakery where I stopped. The other cyclists had bailed…..but guess what? I feel wonderful.”
“Interesting reading! Like slv58 I wondered what is celebrated: The diagnosis? The end of all active treatment? The next mammogram that says ‘all clear’? And I realize that whatever you choose is perfect and wonderful!
“When I turned 40 I marked it by running a marathon. When I turn 50 this May I am not sure what I will do but it will be also 1 year post surgery (so technically ‘cancer-free,’ even though I still had radiation to get through) and I feel that might be the time to celebrate. I may take a page out of MAPallota’s book and host a gratitude party for those that supported me along my crazy cancer journey!
“However it plays out I say Be well, Live Happy.”
“I just had my one year ‘cancerverssary’ yesterday and I did not really acknowledge it at all. I just want to forget this past year happened. Although I am still suffering the side effects of Aromasin as a reminder, I want to put it in my past and just keep trucking forward. My hubby gave me an extra squeeze yesterday when I mentioned it and that was it. Oh, and I ate pizza for dinner, diet be damned! LOL”
“I take the cancerversary from the date of my mx. Last May was 1 year, and I’d gotten the stage iv dx a couple of months before, so didn’t even think of celebrating anything. This year I think a barbecue at home with close friends who are sharing this journey with me. And to give thanks for being alive and still able to enjoy my life!”
“I am only one year out from chemo so I don’t celebrate. I just try to forget it.
“I might think of celebrating when it’s 5 years or more. That’s still so far away.
“I pray to God please don’t let me face cancer again in my life.”
“I don’t know the exact date I was diagnosed, just that it was mid August. I don’t celebrate because anniversaries to me are happy and that was not happy. The darkest day ever. I do reflect on important and special moments that have happened since and tell myself how fortunate I am to be here to enjoy them.”
“My 5 year cancerversary ( 1st time) we went to the Oregon Coast the motel had chocolates and sparkling cider and even a card!! Plus our friend send me a beautiful bouquet !!
“But now I’m at square one again. 2002 mastectomy LT 2006 found a lump on the mastectomy site… yup it’s back, chemo rads and all the bad stuff. fast forward to 2013 rt breast small amounts of IN SITU and calcification and thanks to health care reform as of 1-1-14 I would have no insurance SO I hurry up and have a mastectomy. (and more side affects than the 1st) Now my cancerversary will be Dec not Nov!! LOL”
“I always forget and the date just slips by unnoticed.
“I just try to live the life I learned how to live having gone through a BC dx, which is significantly different than the life I was living before.
“Some parts of the new life suck, but most of it is WAY better.”
“I am two years out from dx as of 1/27/2014 and one year out from finishing chemo today, 2/1. Two years out from bmx in March. I don’t really feel like celebrating any of it, just marking those days, reflecting on….everything. Maybe I will celebrate my DIEP day, when it felt like I got something back that I lost, I don’t know.”
“Every year on my anniversary, I make a collage with random thoughts and pictures I’ve found that speak to me. Here’s my current, year 3, collage.”
“Prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer I had on TWO occasions life saving operations. I never celebrated the anniversaries of my operations, nor do I celebrate the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Quite frankly, I’ve never been into dates relating to illnesses and can’t even recall the dates of all of my illnesses. Then again, I’m not into celebrating my birthday or wedding anniversary either. The DH has had numerous lifesaving operations, including emergency cardiac bypass surgery. Why make a big deal about anniversaries? In my book, every day that both of us are alive is a blessing….”
“I use the date of my mastectomy 1/28/2008. For my five year anniversary I had dinner with my family and a few friends. I gave them each personalized notes and pink M&M’s with my anniversary date. This past week for my 6 yr anniversary I just wanted to have dinner with my mother and sister, did not make a big deal of it.”
“I’m one of the ones who actively celebrate that anniversary. It’s not that I am celebrating cancer in any way, shape, or form. For me I’m celebrating the fact that every day that I’m alive represents a small victory in the battle against this terrible disease, and every anniversary represents another milestone in that battle. I understand the terrible tenacity of this disease (my mom died of b/c). I fully understand that I could recur at any time, so the fact that I’m alive now feels like a victory to me.
“As a bit of background to my attitude, 15 years ago my husband was given a diagnosis of a fatal disease, and was told that at best he might survive for 4 years. He took an experimental treatment and was cured within the year. Four years later, when we were supposed to be having his funeral, he was alive and thriving. To celebrate that victory, I threw a ‘wake’ for him. We rented a suite at a minor league baseball game and invited all our friends and relatives who had been so supportive. I even arranged with the team for him to throw out the first pitch. We laughed and celebrated that he was alive, and that we had our loving friends and family around us. He loved every bit of it, and we still celebrate every year that he’s alive.”
Do any of these women’s experiences and thoughts about cancerversaries resonate with you? Do you celebrate?