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How Do You Mark Cancerversaries, Or Do You?

It’s been over a decade since I heard those words, you have cancer. Actually, the words I heard were, you have ‘a’ cancer. I’ve always wondered about that little ‘a’ inserted into the conversation I had on the phone with ‘a’ doctor that spring day. Yes, ‘a’ doctor delivered the news, not ‘my’ doctor; another little ‘a’ sneaking in there…

As I’ve written about many times, there are lots of reminder dates that pop out on the calendar for me each year. There are my mother’s dates too, so between the two of us, there get to be quite a few.

Do I mark them all? Lord, no. But many of them, you bet I do.

How could I not?

Marking cancerversaries is something we all feel differently about; no surprise there, right?

Some people mark all of them; some mark just the biggies. Others don’t mark any, or so they say. Still others, celebrate dates they finished up this treatment or that treatment. Again, some do not. Some mark each year post diagnosis, sort of like adding to a “years of survival chain” I suppose. A few might go out to eat, or even throw parties. Some people talk and share, others keep silent.

A few days ago, Dear Hubby was asking me about my upcoming cancerversary dates. He remembers the two big ones, diagnosis day and bilateral mastectomy day. He doesn’t really remember the others, the dates I mean.

It was touching and telling to me when he said, “Yes I remember that one” (bilateral day). I didn’t ask him to elaborate on his comment; I didn’t need to. I’ve been thinking lately more about that day and how it must have felt from his vantage point…

Dear Hubby went on to ask me if I wanted to do anything special to mark any of the days this year.

“No, I said, “I don’t.”

Around my first cancerversary, we did. We took some time and “disappeared” for a bit at the Florida coast. It was wonderfully freeing just to be somewhere else where no one knew anything about us.

Since then, I don’t mark cancerversary dates — not out loud anyway. I might mention this date or that date to Dear Hubby, but that’s it. I mark dates privately now. And of course, I still mark many of them here with you, Dear Readers.

After a certain amount of time passes, you’re expected to not talk about cancer much anymore. Remembering dates, out loud, becomes awkward for those listening.

Admittedly, some dates are slowly becoming a bit fuzzier in my mind; the dates, not the memories of what happened on them. Big difference.

But some days will always be marked days. And that day when I got the call; well, that’s certainly one of them.

So yes, I do mark cancerversaries, but I do so quietly now, and this is okay with me. Perhaps it’s even as it should be.

What about you — how do you mark cancerversaries, or do you?

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Do you mark any of your cancerversaries and if so, how do you do it — “loudly or quietly”?

How Do You Mark Cancerversaries, Or Do You?

Linda Boberg

Wednesday 25th of April 2018

"After a certain amount of time passes you’re expected to not talk cancer much anymore. " Too true. That's okay with me, but then I don't want to hear about all their ailments either. It gets tiring. I don't celebrate dates, but I keep a list of them because when something else medical happens to me, I want to be able to give them accurate dates. I do thing of the date that I mark as the start of remission but even that one is starting to blur.


Thursday 26th of April 2018

Linda, It's important to keep a record for the reason you mentioned. Listening to another person's ailments can get tiring, but I like to think when I do, I'm offering validation, and who doesn't want that? It's a two-way street, or should be. Thank you for sharing.

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

I don't remember the exact date I got the call, although it was roughly a few weeks after your call. I do remember the date of surgery, first chemo, and last date of treatment (last rad). The last one I quietly acknowledge because that feels like the milestone. I quietly exhale a sigh of relief for getting through it all.


Sunday 4th of May 2014

Eileen, Now that you mention it, I remember that you and I were diagnosed near the same time. I guess you're going through some memories right about now too then. And I know what you mean about that quiet exhale... Thank you for reading and sharing.

Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

[…] Nancy asks the question this week “How do you mark cancerversaries?” […]

Kathy H.

Friday 2nd of May 2014

I was diagnosed on my 47th birthday. The date I started chemo is Feb 26th. I get flowers from my husband and sister on that date every year.


Saturday 3rd of May 2014

Kathy, How awful to be diagnosed on your birthday, although there would never be a good day. My mother found her lump on my birthday, so I have a birthday connection to cancer, too, that'd I'd rather not have, but... Nice that you get flowers every year. That's sweet. Thanks for sharing.

Marcia Musial

Friday 2nd of May 2014

7/24/12 @ 9:05 a.m. No, I don't celebrate my tonsil (left) CA-versary. But I celebrate every day. I don't dwell on it and I'm a "glass half full" person; but yikes! I long for the day when it's not the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing when I fall asleep at night. Although, I'm grateful that I'm here for it to be on my mind! I also celebrate 11/14/12, which was my last day of radiation-and my Husband's 57th birthday.


Saturday 3rd of May 2014

Marcia, I don't dwell on it either, but the thoughts are always close to the surface. That birthday of your husband's in 2012 must have been extra special and always will be. Thanks for reading and sharing.

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