Two years. It’s been two years since the mass was discovered on my left ovary. That appointment and ultrasound changed my life in one of the most profound ways I could have never imagined. There are dates that I’m convinced will be burned into my memory for the rest of my life, this is one of them. It’s not a birthday, anniversary, or a wedding date so there is no cake, presents, or balloons. I think that’s what makes it harder for others to understand. Dates that hold this kind of significance for the survivor have no bearing on others or meaning. Cue the isolating island.
Recently I’ve had to really think back a lot on this timeframe as I’ve had to craft my story to share in front of future medical professionals beginning this month. Two years ago it was supposed to be easy. Surgery to remove the mass and the left ovary, be thrown into menopause for a month until the right side took over, and then be on with my life. Ha. That was the plan. Fourteen days later that plan would have a brick thrown at it, then backed over by truck, then set on fire, and then doused with tears.
Thinking back over the last two years and just how far I’ve come seems almost unrealistic to me. It feels like I’ve lived a lifetime in a matter of two years. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I cram as much stuff into my days as possible because I understand that nothing lasts forever or if it’s because I really walked through some major shit along the way. Both. I walked through hell and back and then I never stopped walking once I got on the other side of hell. I don’t plan to stop walking either. I live for the euphoric harmony that echoes from a day well spent. Even on the other side, out of treatments, in remission, I will never forget. Never. This is where dates have significance for me and me alone. I’m somewhat comfortably ok with that, too.
It’s taken me two years to accept that these dates have no bearing on other people, not even my spouse. That isn’t a shot at my spouse, honestly, he is lucky to remember his own birthdate. It’s just the stone cold truth. No one else is going to remember this kind of stuff, but me. That is a tough road to learn with a lot of jagged-edged stones to walk on emotionally. I’ve also learned how to speak up and say that I might need some grace on certain days, like today. Crazy to think that people aren’t mind readers, not even my hero husband.
The cancer road is a long and winding road with many hills, curves, pot-holes, and then along each of those bumps is baggage. Baggage to unload, dust off, and put in a different place or back on the shelves in our lives. I’ve learned some of that is pretty deep-rooted and some of it takes a while to dust off. The surface of cancer is what most people see, it’s the stuff we don’t show, or that you can’t see that we trip over in the middle of the curvy road. That baggage that we trip over we can’t ignore. I think of life before cancer as a constant sweeping motion, sweeping things under the rug. That’s how I was raised, we swept everything under a rug and we didn’t deal with any of it. Cancer didn’t give me that benefit. There were times I tripped HARD. That emotional journey is not for the faint. I did discover a book and a class that helped me tremendously in unpacking all of this which is, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. That book and course helped me muddle through all that baggage. It helped me stand again after tripping. I still trip over things today, just differently, that’s a part of life.
Cancerversary dates have significant meaning for the survivor. They represent reflection, our journey, milestones, joy, sorrow, and our baggage that we’ve overcome. And since nothing in cancer is ever easy, we don’t just have one date, we have multiple dates that will always hold significance.
Raise those cabernet glasses to a lifetime within two years and to dates on a calendar that others will never fully understand!