I forgot my cancer anniversary this year. Somehow, the date that that is forever embedded in my memory slipped my mind. My children reminded me of this over dinner except they called it my birthday causing me to stare at them perplexed. They stared back at me and asked, “Isn’t today, like, your birthday or something? Isn’t it when you were diagnosed with cancer?”
At first, I laughed. What a joy it was to realize that I had come so far as to forget one of the most harrowing days of my life. It was like childbirth, I had forgotten the pain.
Being diagnosed with CML and going through treatment is grueling and tears you to your core. Slowly you figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and make it to every doctor’s appointment, scheduled scan and blood test. You pray, or not, because maybe you don’t believe in a God who gives cancer to children, young mothers and fathers, or your favorite aunt. You recalibrate your life and know it will never be the same.
Then, as time passes and the tests become less frequent, the results become more stable, you carefully start to move forward. Miraculously, you find that you don’t think about your cancer every day. Then, the truly incredible happens and you forget your cancer anniversary. Or, maybe you never marked the date because you never wanted to remember it in the first place.
Forgetting my cancer anniversary was actually a turning point for me. I realized I didn’t want to dismiss the thing that had caused me to relish my health, drive me to live life to the fullest, and be completely present. Forgetting the importance of March 6th this year caused me to critically evaluate how I was spending my time. I try to think more about my legacy and less about my resume.
So, what about you? Do you celebrate your cancer anniversary? Do you choose to remember, or not, in a special way? Please share!
Beth Hodges is a 9 year CML survivor. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three girls.