Last Friday, was my cancerversary. Seven years ago on 3/25/04, I scratched my right breast and found a lump about the size of a walnut. Initially, I wasn’t worried. After all, I figured that after losing my first husband to stomach cancer, I’d done my time in cancer-land and was magically protected from ever dealing w/cancer again (how do you spell delusional?). Plus, I’d breast fed both my kids (from my 2nd marriage), ran 4 miles/day, ate a lowfat diet, was younger than 45, and had no history of cancer in my family. Cancer? No way.
Finding that lump was the start of my descent into the crazy cancer vortex – lumpectomy, four rounds of AC (a drug aptly named “the red devil”), 12 rounds of taxol, eight weeks of daily radiation, 52 weeks of herceptin. My cancer was stage 3 and very aggressive. I was the queen of optimism but my life kept getting darker and darker. When I was in the middle of radiation, my younger sister, DeeDee, was diagnosed with stage4 lung cancer. We did our treatments together at Mass. General Hospital in Boston – the cancer sisters! Just as I was nearing the finish line, my husband started an affair with his college girlfriend.
Strange how things turn out. DeeDee’s cancer and my marriage were terminal. But I’m still here; going strong and cancer free.
I often wonder why things happened the way they did. I like to believe I had cancer so I could be by Dee’s side during her journey. With me, she wasn’t afraid to talk about the elephant in the room. But who knows? As for my ex, I guess I should have seen it coming. He didn’t have what it took to go through a tough time. I’ve come to learn that a lot of men ditch wives who have cancer. Sad but true. At first, I thought the demise of my marriage was the end of the world. But in the end, losing him proved to be the best thing ever for me. I hope that’s the case for other women who get dumped, too.
I have a lot of friends who have awful scars from their lumpectomies. Not me. I had two huge incisions, but barely have scars that you can see. Regardless, my cancer stays w/me in good and bad ways. I don’t live in fear, but do kind of wonder if it will come back. So far, so good. And now that I’ve faced my mortality up close and personal, I’ve been given the gift of learning how to live in the moment. I never take anything for granted anymore.
Is cancerversary even a word?
I marked the day w/a run in the woods and movie with my 13 year old son. It was wonderful. I didn’t tell him or his 15 year old sister that it was an anniversary of sorts. They didn’t need the reminder. To them, it was just another normal day, as it should be. After dealing w/the constant drama of cancer, a low-key, mundane day is something to be treasured.