Trying to anticipate #spring #cancer #cancerdiagnosis #breastcancer #spring

Trying to Anticipate Spring…

Spring is here, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I’m certainly tired of cold temps and the color white, but on the other hand, I have all these upcoming dates, anniversaries and reminders marking my “cancer beginnings.”

I’m not entirely certain how I will feel when each one of these days arrives. And there are so darn many of them!

The word “anticipate” means to look forward to something pleasant and the opposite, of course, is dread, expecting something not so pleasant. So, maybe I have chosen the wrong title for this post because I know some of the days that lie ahead will not be pleasant. Some of the approaching dates I do actually dread.

But I am looking forward to warmer days and no snow. I am happy it’s not last year this time. I am happy to be finished with most treatment for now. I am happy my hair is slowly growing back. So maybe the word “anticipate” still fits. I want it to fit.

I want to anticipate Spring…

Many fellow bloggers have written about their cancerversaries, a word I had never even heard of before my diagnosis. (Actually, I’m not sure it is a word.) Some are at about the same place as me in their cancer experience. Some are way further out and some are still “behind” me.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many years “out” from cancer one gets, certain dates are forever etched into the mind and are eerie reminders of the fragility of our lives. I find this comforting because so many others understand where I’m coming from, but at the same time, it’s unsettling.

Sometimes, I just want to erase all the memories and forget. Sometimes, I want to believe cancer didn’t happen to me at all. Sometimes, I wish there was a magic “delete button” I could press to remove the cancer-heavy months from my life altogether.

Then again, sometimes I do want to remember. I want to remember all of it. After all, I’m still here.

My cancer “journey” began last April. It seems like only yesterday I was living a life without cancer. Then again, sometimes I can hardly remember my life without it.

I don’t like the term “cancer journey.” At all.

Going on a journey sounds like a pleasant undertaking. First of all, whenever I take a trip or journey (at least since being an adult) I get to decide where I’m going, what route to take, what I want to take along with me, who else is going, how long I’m staying and how I will get there and back.

If I don’t like my destination once I arrive, I can leave early or not stay at all. And usually part of the fun is in the journey itself.

Although fragments of a cancer journey may contain pleasant moments, a pleasant journey it is not! It’s certainly a journey I would NEVER have chosen to take.

On my “cancer journey” I don’t get to decide things as much as I’d like. In fact, sometimes it feels like I don’t know or get to decide much at all. I don’t know for sure exactly where I’m going or sometimes even if I’m headed in the right direction. I don’t know from one day to the next if I’ve “over packed or under packed.”

No matter what I call this path I’ve been stumbling along on for nearly a year now, it’s clearly been a detour from the path I thought I was on before my diagnosis.

I now look at things, people and events in terms of my cancer. Dear Hubby does too. It’s a thing we both do automatically now. Often we find ourselves saying to each other, “Well, was that before cancer or after?” Or Dear Hubby jokingly says, “Was that before your heart attack or after?”

Yep. Cancer has become our new point of reference.

Things either happened before cancer or after cancer. Even though I lived many years before my mother’s and then my own cancer, it still somehow feels as if there is more “stuff” on this side.

This is the side that is “weighted down.” This is the side that feels “heavy.”

Maybe someday things will feel in balance again.

I’ll keep you posted at all my stops along the way.

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Are you anticipating Spring?

How do you handle unpleasant anniversaries of any kind? 

How do you feel about calling cancer a journey?

 

Anticipating #spring #cancer #cancerdiagnosis
Anticipating this… my yard still has a lot of white!

32 thoughts to “Trying to Anticipate Spring…”

  1. Nancy, I love spring, it’s always been my favourite season, and now, like you, it’s full of all these anniversaries that start in February with diagnosis day. Those dates feel like they will be as you say ‘forever etched’ in my mind, now four years in, or on, or along… whatever the right word is. I too am unsure about the word ‘journey’, I know when I first heard it I thought, this is more like a nightmare actually! And yes, ‘before’ in our conversations always now means ‘before breast cancer’, we don’t even have to say it in full. I remember the first year it seemed important to mark the anniversary of diagnosis so we went shopping together and then went up the tower at the cathedral and looked out at our city. Now I don’t feel the need to actually mark the occasion, but I definitely remember the dates. I hope your spring transition goes smoothly, but remember the emotions may be very strong and may surprise you with their depth, they still do for me.

    1. Sarah, I knew you would totally get it. Thanks for sharing your experience with this. Actually, I’m kind of glad spring is not my favorite season because of all these anniversaries. I will try to be ready for whatever emotions arise. We’ll see…

  2. Recently when I went home, I looked through my mom’s old calendars that we keep in the closet. I looked through the one of her second year having cancer– she wrote down every chemo appt, every day she had a side effect to keep record of, etc. I cried looking through it. It’s just such an emotional thing to look back on a full year in your life and think of all you’ve been through when something like cancer walks into your life and turns it upsidedown. Let yourself feel however you want to on these ‘anniversaries’– we’ll be here every step of the way! XOXO

    1. Sami, Thanks for commenting. I always marvel at how openly you share all the stuff about your mom. I appreciate your support and willingness to be there, Sami.

  3. Great posting, Nancy! The first cancerversary is usually surreal. I don’t like “cancer journey,” but I do use the words, “cancer experience.”

    I have so many cancerversaries, I can’t keep count. Most of them come in the winter. I was diagnosed in winter, and then about five years later, I had my preventive mastectomy with reconstruction in winter.

    With cold, snowy, short days, winter is not a good time for many emotionally, but with so many of my cancerversaries in winter, it makes things difficult.

    Congrats on reaching a very important milestone. There will hopefully be many more!

    1. Beth, Thank you for taking time to leave your thoughts. Cancer experience does sound a bit better. I don’t know why so many of these words bother me so much. Sounds like you really look forward to spring! Enjoy this one.

  4. Beautiful post Nancy! I can definitely relate. I have just reached my two year “cancerversary” . . . the word is so odd, isn’t it? I mean who ever thought we would be using a word like that? But, here we are. I am very mixed about all of it, these dates that is. On the one hand I feel compelled to feel grateful to be here and I feel guilty if for a moment (okay, I will be honest, many moments, long moments) I don’t feel so grateful. On the other hand, I see and feel the scars and changes that cancer has visited upon my body. So there is both joy – joy in the overcoming of what has been overcome, joy that I am still here (in whatever form) and sadness over what has been lost. We know what that day was like when we heard the news . . . I never imagnined anniversarizing such a day, but, here I am. I hope that when you reach that day you will be reminded not of the sadness and suffering that you have had to endure, but, instead of the triumphs, warm days ahead among your flowers, your family and your dogs. I will be thinking of you.

    1. Lisa, Thank you so much for your thoughtful caring words. Cancerversary is an odd word to be sure; I’m not even sure it actually is a word, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not. You are right about all these conflicting feelings and thanks for the reminder to try to remember the triumphs. I’ll try to do that.

  5. I loved reading your post Nancy! Cancer “journeys” really should be referred to as “bad trips”. I constantly think about my first “cancerversary” which will happen this summer as I was diagnosed on the last day of my sons'(ages 16 and 12) school. I can’t wait for summer to do all the things I missed last year. I want to enjoy going out for ice cream with my family, spend a weekend at the beach, go to an outdoor concert and just celebrate everyday. I was tremendously relieved when my oncologist scheduled my mammogram for the middle of August because it means I can have a normal summer and be present in their lives all summer.

    1. Betsy, Thank you for sharing about your “bad trip.” I look forward to this summer too. I call last year’s the summer that wasn’t. I hope you keep reading and commenting. I really do appreciate it.

  6. You know, a lot of women mark their cancerversary in many different ways. I choose not to. I just don’t. Why should I decide on a date? Why should I give it any more attention than it has already grabbed?
    Five years from what? Ruining my life as I knew it? I don’t think so!

    I’ll just pick up the leftover pieces and start from where I am now.

    Oh, and I agree about the “journey” part. I thought it would be a journey, at first. But it turned out not to be. I would say more of a curse. I think that’s the right word. Anything less gives it too much credit.

    All I can say now is “Good riddance”!

    Thanks for letting me vent. 🙂

    1. Dianne, Thanks for commenting. I think it’s perfectly understandable you do not “mark” your date. I’m not sure I will either, but I will certainly think about all my “dates” as they come and go. Come back and vent anytime. A little ranting is fine with me!

  7. Cancer journey? If you consider that the checkin line is always full, the passengers have oversized emotional baggage and the destination is unknown. Not so much for me. Ordeal would be a better word. My hubby and I just realized we have spent more than half of our relationship with cancer in the middle of everything. We’ve almost forgotten what life was like before. It makes me so sad to think about this. This Is not the life I imagined for us and it makes me feel immensely guilty. I know it’s not my fault but still I can’t shake it. I’ll be honest and say that it’s becoming harder to imagine what we could have to look forward to. Cancer just keeps taking and taking. But you have to keep finding things to get out of bed for, no matter how small. And yes Spring is a big motivator in that regard.

    1. Anna, Interesting travel comparison. Yes, I think ordeal is a much better word. I’m sorry half of your relationship with your husband has also included cancer, a horrible “third wheel” to be sure, just a crummy reality for you guys. I understand about the guilt thing, you know it’s not your fault, but that doesn’t stop such feelings. I am really happy you do have such a special hubby in your life who shares it all… and I am glad you find spring to be motivating. How’s that project coming anyway?

  8. Nancy, I’ve never “celebrated” my cancerversaries, can’t even tell you what date I was diagnosed, except for August 2004. I never wanted to give cancer that much power, although it takes it whether I believe it or not.

    I do know, however, that I will always remember and base what happens as I move forward on the day James died: Sunday, December 26, 2010, @5:45pm, on a cold but sunny Texas day. He has my heart, my love, my secrets and my desires and always will.

    XOXOXO,
    Brenda

    1. Brenda, Thanks for your comments. Yes, cancer doesn’t need any more power that’s for sure. I understand what you mean, you are now living a life after James. The day he died was a cruel marker forever etched in time for you. Hang on to all those memories of life before that day. Still thinking of you…

  9. Hi Nancy, I’m with you. May 1st is the two year anniversary of my diagnosis. I think you may be right about not having had enough time yet to move forward. I think I have a better perspective now than a year ago. With luck, it gets a bit easier, yeah, it still sucks. Yes, there’s still cancer fallout to deal with, but I think there’s some breathing room now. I don’t believe the anniversary though, is something to celebrate. I know I’m getting ready to move forward. Just made an appointment with my plastic surgeon to discuss nips and tats. That may be a more definitive point on this “journey.” At least I hope so.

    1. Stacey, Two years out, that’s great. You’re probably right, I think I do need more time to get a better handle on things. Fallout, that’s a perfect word for all the “stuff” that comes with cancer. Keep me posted about your plastic surgery decisions. Thanks for commenting, Stacey.

  10. “Cancer journey” is like “touched by cancer.” That’s why I often say “punched by cancer.” It’s no caress, that’s for sure.
    Sending hugs and always hope-
    Lori

  11. Hum, in thinking about this post I realize how the longer time passes, the more the mental pain eases. I would not have thought that two years ago, but now at four, I realize I’m not measuring events and time (at least all the time) by the date of my cancer diagnosis…. This probably isn’t making any sense to anyone but me….
    Bring on Spring!

    1. Lisa, Thanks for commenting on this. I’m glad you are not “measuring” so much any more. I hope I get to that point some day. Spring, well, it snowed here overnight, like half a foot!

  12. In Colorado, Spring is 74 degrees one day and 40 derees below 70 the next. It keeps us guessing, just like life. I’ve never celebrated any of my cancer aniversaries. Never even given any thought to it. I do write on my calendar the last day of treatment,and the year ( Like I do for birthdays and anniversaries.) I try to treat myelf that day, If I remember to check the calendar! With age you are lucky to remember what you did yesterday! Ha Ha But I feel incredibly blessed to be this old. When I was in treatment I’d bring in treats on Halloween and any holiday close to my treaments for everyone in the waiting room and the nurses. Many of the waiting room people couldn’t eat, but they all smiled and were very gracious for the effort. I could really relate to Lori and being “punched” by cancer. The important part is we may have been knocked down and around the ring, but we continued to get up and fight. Any reason to celebrate, I say clebrate!
    Nancy, I am so happy your hair is coming back in, that’s something to really celebrate!

    1. Betty, Thanks for commenting. Spring is pretty elusive around here too. It snowed overnight and it is lovely but… You’re right, we need to find any reason to celebrate. And I know what you mean about remembering to check that calendar!

  13. I have not yet had my “cancer anniversary” so everything still too fresh. I did receieve letter in te mail yesterday reminding me of a need to make an appt with my gyn-ob doc and my first thought was, this was how it all began last year. I am sure there will be some emotional moments as certain dates pass. Hoping time will make it easier.

    1. Maryann, Thank you for commenting. There probably will be many emotional moments ahead for you, too, as you remember how “it all began” last year. Good luck making your way through them all.

  14. Nancy, what a great great post!! I loved reading it – I hate the word ‘journey’ too, I’ve not met one person who refers to it fondly, I wonder who came up with that?! What a crock, lol.

    But, like you, I remember every date (although, it’s really not that long ago, it only started in January for me) – as you get further away, does it get easier? Does the thought of reoccurance still make you nauseated? I cannot imagine a day when I wake up and cancer will NOT be the first thing I think of 🙁 I hear that you do get there eventually… I hope so.

    Thinking of you this week as it all comes up for you, can’t wait to read all about it 🙂

    1. Michelle, So many of the labels annoy me, not even exactly sure why. I’m not that far out either really, so I don’t know if it gets easier, hopefully it does. Actually, I try really hard to not even think about recurrence and most of the time I am successful, but still those thoughts do creep in on occasion. Thanks for reading and commenting, Michelle.

  15. Nancy, what a great reflection of how things are: BC and AC (Before and after cancer). I find as time goes by (and I am 8 years away now from my recurrence)that I am forgetting more and more the “before cancer” experience. I’m living with my lymphedema and my cancer as a new, changed person, and it feels normal now to me. It’s a matter of adjustment and healing over time.

    I am anticipating spring, especially since we are having a very rough beginning of spring in the Sierra foothills this year. Spring will always signify renewal for me, and especially because I’ve survived cancer.

    I like to call cancer a journey because the scenery changes over time and sometimes the road is rough and other times it smooths out. So I think naming it a journey is very appropriate.

    Happy spring! Jan

    1. Jan, Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I admire how you always remain so positive, I just don’t care for the word journey, perhaps rough road trip is more suiting to me for now. Perhaps my perspective will change with time. I really am trying to anticipate spring, but I know parts of won’t be easy. It just won’t be.

  16. Oh, yeah, I always do the before cancer/ after cancer thinking. And since my cancer was conveniently diagnosed in early January 2009, I pretty much consider 2009 “the cancer year.” As for the cancer journey, when I mentioned to my surgeon how much I hated that term because a journey should include a passport and sunny beaches and this one clearly did not, he said “you are right. It’s not really a journey is it? It’s more like Homer’s Odyssey.” So we’ve always called it my “Cancer Odyssey.” Much more accurate.

    1. Teresa, Thanks for your thoughts here on the “before and after” thinking that automatically seems to happen. Cancer really does create a clear divide doesn’t it? And “Cancer Odyssey,” yes, much better.

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