Happy Anniversary to me! I mean, Happy Cancerversary to me! Three years ago today in 2013 I got the biopsy that started my breast cancer treatment adventures. It seems like something to celebrate because every month that passes without evidence of a return of disease, there is a slightly better chance that I will remain so. Cancer offers many anniversaries if you want to note them. Diagnosis, first chemo, last chemo, surgery, when the pathology report came in, the last Herceptin infusion….. Really there could be cancer holidays all year long.
Maybe it is because I was in no way surprised by my diagnosis, this isn’t a particularly hard day for me. Clearly I was cancering for a while prior, probably as long ago as 2009 – which is when I first collapsed from exhaustion. By February of 2013 I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was up. Before cancer and After cancer therefore have a bit of a different meaning for me. It took me awhile to actually go to the doctor. (Apparently I am somewhat resistant to the marketing efforts to get people to actually take action when they suspect something cancer-ish is going on. I have learned my lesson BTW…)
I am still thinking about cancering a lot, as in pretty much everyday. Not in a gut wrenching sense, just in a continued surveillance sort of a way. I am continuing to refine what my new habits are for making me as non-compatible with cancer as possible. All while trying to live as fully as possible, and in the present moment as much possible. The problem is that there is a pull to return to old ways of being in the world now that the urgency of treatments are well and truly past.
In the book The Happiness Hypothesis author Jonathan Haidt reports that our happiness tends to have an individual native set point, to which we return after big events. Whether those events are positive or negative. So after a year or two, someone who has been paralyzed in an accident or someone who has won the lottery, will each end up pretty much back where they started, happiness wise. I am finding that to be mostly true, especially if you take the Tamoxifen and scan driven anxiety episodes out of the picture.
Perhaps of all the Cancerversaries available to me, I ought to focus on when I received my pCR in May of 2014 when I was restaged from 3C to Zero and declared to have no desernable disease. Or perhaps when My “active” treatments, i.e. Herceptin infusions, ended in December 2014. Regardless Today is when I got on the roller coaster and it seems a good time as any to check in with how well I am doing at remaining happy, and harvesting the full bounty of the the gifts that cancer had to offer. There are no guarantees that I will continue in stage zero for the rest of my days, but for right now it is a blessing to be here three years after it all started.
So Happy Anniversary to Me!