A Cancerversary is a combination of the words "cancer" & "anniversary"
It’s a term that’s used to refer to the anniversary of a significant event related to a person’s battle with cancer. For example, the day they were diagnosed, the day they completed treatment, or the day they received news that they were no-evidence-of-disease. For those who’ve faced cancer, a cancerversary can be a time of reflection and celebration. It serves as a reminder of their resilience and a way to honor their survival and continued fight.
Cancerversaries can vary in significance and how they are observed. Some might celebrate by gathering with loved ones, participating in activities they enjoy, or engaging in events that support awareness. Others might choose to have a more private observance, and some might not even want to celebrate at all.
This specific event can hold different emotional meanings for each person
ranging from a joyous occasion to a more somber reflection. It can also be an opportunity for cancer survivors to share their stories and provide hope and encouragement.
For me, I choose to celebrate and share my story with anyone who will hear it because it may be the story that can save their life.
This year is a very special cancerversary that i’m fortunate to celebrate.
On August 17th, 2023 I will be able to celebrate my 3rd cancerversary since diagnosis. It’s been 3 years since cancer came into my life to take me down, and I’m still here standing, stronger than I’ve ever been before.
What’s so important about the 3rd year? I’m glad you asked!
When recurrences happen with triple-negative breast cancer, it's usually within the first 5 years after diagnosis
and the highest risk is at roughly 3 years from diagnosis.TNBC is an aggressive, fast-growing form of breast cancer that is more likely than others to recur. About 40% of people with an early stage diagnosis (stages 1 to 3) will experience a recurrence after treatment within the first 2–3 years following their initial diagnosis. I was diagnosed with stage 1A (initially, then stage 1B).
For me to make it to this very special year, is a massive milestone in my journey with breast cancer.
As I Sit Here Writing This Post, It’s Hard For Me To Even Start To Grasp What In The Actual F*Ck I Went Through These Past Three Years.
The world went into complete pandamonium and shut down. I lost a job that I loved, and my grandma to covid. Then got punched right in the gut and diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I couldn’t see my friends, or family during my treatment because of the risk of contracting covid while undergoing chemotherapy and having my husband shave my head bald as I cried.
Sitting with bags of ice on my hands & feet while chemo pumped through my veins and then having to wake up in a hospital room all by myself after having my boobs amputated. My risk of lymphedema sky rocketed when I had to go in for another surgery to remove the hiding tumor in my lymph nodes. I faced my worst fear when it came to treatment by having to do 25 rounds of radiation, and if that wasn’t enough I’d have to pump more chemo through me before I could be declared no-evidence-of-disease.
I went through a lot of shit...
But As A Survivor, I know others have gone through a lot more – and others have not made it to where I am today.
It’s a very somber feeling to know that you survived and others didn’t. There’s friends I’ve met along my journey who aren’t here anymore because cancer took them away, and with that survivor’s guilt it can be really hard to find a way to stay in a celebratory mood.
However, I know how short life can be and instead of mourning those we’ve lost along the way I want to celebrate them. I want to celebrate every single person who’s been affected by cancer because it’s not just the patient that has to navigate a diagnosis – their loved ones do too.
I am so unbelievably lucky to have a support system like i did when I got diagnosed.
Despite not being able to physically see anyone, I knew they were by my side with each step I took towards being done with treatment.
I asked all of my friends and family if they could wear pink for me when I started treatment, and man did they not disappoint.
Just looking at this picture 3 years later makes me tear up, but since I’m typing a pretty heartfelt post I’m trying not to all out cry.
Anyways, I digress.
A support system is the most critical thing a person getting diagnosed with cancer can receive. My husband told me when I first got the news, that cancer is more of a mental battle than a physical – and he was right.
As I near my 3rd cancerversary there's some words of advice I'd like to share from both a patient's perspective and a caretaker's perspective.
During treatment, it was hard for me not to want to go go go. My mind was tired, yes, but my body was even more exhausted and I had to learn to keep my mind quiet at times and listen to my body.
As humans we don’t typically want to show weakness, we want to go throughout our days like we’re fine, but that tunnel vision we get during treatment enhances that need even more. After each infusion, shot, scan, and lab draw, the tunnel vision becomes increasingly intense because we just want to get to that light at the end of the tunnel. The light will be easier to get to though, when we learn to really look inside and figure out what our body needs so our minds can then flourish.
Resting when I needed to but being able to move was a critical component I needed to understand because I wasn’t able to move as I did without treatment coursing through my body. I went from a very cardio/HIIT focus to taking up yoga, meditation, and lifting heavier weights than I ever had before. Movement can be a form of medicine when you use it correctly! I had to do a lot of research to understand what my body would be capable of doing (safely) and I had to learn to ask for help when I needed it.
Allowing my loved ones to help take the load off day-to-day things, really helped me hone in on what my body (and mind) was needing.
As someone who has also been a caretaker to numerous loved ones, the best thing we can do to help out is be their cheerleader when they need some cheering up – but also a shoulder to cry on when thing things get rough. Remember that we as patients do not need to be positive all the time, it’s ok for us to have a breakdown and for you to allow us to be angry.
For those days where chemo just makes it near impossible to go from the bed to the couch, laundry or cleaning the house definitely is not in our foresight. My in-laws came to my house a few times and helped with some of the household chores and it was so very well received.
Since covid had us all in lockdown, My Sister Organized A Meal Train And It Was Honestly One Of The Best Helps We Received...
Whenever someone asks me what they can do for someone who’s just diagnosed, that’s my immediate answer.
You can set it up so the person you’re creating it for can pick restaurants they love ordering from and getting things delivered to them, or you can outline what you will bring over so they don’t have too much of one kind of food dish!
It really helped not just me, but my husband too. Going back to what I said before – cancer doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects those we love too. Since he was the one to pick up the day-to-day where I couldn’t, he needed a break too.
Does the thought of my cancer coming back ever enter my mind these days? Fuck yea it does.
I think it’s still too raw for that thought to be more a fleeting moment, but as I look to those who are now in their 5, 10, 15+ years of TNBC survivorship, I’m so hopeful of what my future will look like.
For now, I will relish in the fact that I made it to the big 3 and spend every single day that lies ahead of me feeling grateful and happy.