Tuesday, February 14, 2023

What is a Cancerversary?

A Cancerversary is an important date regarding a person's fight against cancer

A cancerversary is a date that represents a milestone in regards to a person's battle with cancer. It may be when a person was diagnosed, started a new treatment, found out that their cancer was in remission, or had their last treatment.
The term comes from the combination of "cancer" and "anniversary." It gained popularity in the mid-2010s as people began to more publicly celebrate the victories and defeats that come with battling cancer, especially on social media.
Most people that have not had cancer or experienced a loved one getting cancer will probably not be familiar with the term. However, it is typically a big deal for the person battling it because it represents a moment that forever changed their lives.
Loved ones usually celebrate cancerversaries in a way that is appropriate for the milestone. For example, a cancer survivor's family and/or friends may go out to dinner to celebrate the cancerversary of the person's last treatment much the same way as a wedding anniversary or birthday. Or a person may take time to reflect on the cancerversary on which they were diagnosed to appreciate how it has changed them, for better and for worse.

Through my own cancer journey and advocacy I have had the pleasure in meeting a number of people that have unfortunately heard the words "you have cancer". 
I find it interesting how some people share their stories openly and want to advocate for others, some share their stories to help themselves heal and move forward, and I have also met others that just want to move on and not talk about it at all. Everyone has their own way of dealing with life changing events.
I have a chronic cancer that requires me to take daily medication to keep it under control. I've never "celebrated" a cancerversary but I do acknowledge my date of diagnosis. It is pretty hard to forget when your medication is a daily reminder but also I was told I had Chronic Myeloid Leukemia on February 14th - Valentine's Day! 

Today marks 6 years since my diagnosis. 
As I reflect on the past six years, I am grateful for modern medicine in keeping me alive, but my gratitude is mixed with the emotions of dealing with side effects such as extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, nausea, scalp and mouth sores, painful feet. and more. 
I am slowly learning to live with my “new normal” but mourn the loss of my old life. This does not only effect me, but also my husband, family and friends. 
After a certain amount of time I think most people expect you to move on and not talk about cancer anymore. I'm sure it it makes some people uncomfortable.
I do not and will not apologize for talking about my cancer diagnosis. If in sharing my story and advocating to get information out there I am able to help just one person feel supported during their initial diagnosis and feel that they are not alone, then I will continue to do so.
Don't let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn't feel, honor yourself, your feelings, your strength. Give your self credit for managing life during and after diagnosis. 
Do what feels right for you

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