Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN

Anniversaries often conjure up happy thoughts- a wedding anniversary, anniversary of quitting smoking, anniversary of starting a new job.  But when cancer is involved, an anniversary of a different kind becomes part of your memory.  I doubt that most people with diabetes can remember the day they were given this news.  But just about every person who has had cancer can remember that date and describe the events that transpired in great detail.

February 21, 2001 – I remember the events quite clearly – and I was lucky to only need surgery.  I can only imagine how that day would be tattooed in my mind if the journey were more taxing.  I remember standing there with my friend, who was also the dermatologist who took the biopsy, as he pulled the pathology report from the fax machine.  His face went from a friendly smile to a concerned look. Time stood still. I needed to sit down, the possibilities flew through my oncology nurses mind, as you can imagine.  I grabbed the report, called the oncologist I worked with and ran – not walked – to her office to review it.  The report has many scribbles on it – her describing what it meant in pictures and attempting to calm me.  Looking at it brings back that day as if it were yesterday.

I got through that day and the following few weeks unscathed, but every year the scenario runs through my mind.  The possibility of developing another cancer, what about those headaches I’ve been having – they are the brain metastases declaring themselves, right?  I sound like I must need counseling, but the reality is, I also stand a little prouder each year that I have done the right things to prevent the next cancerversary.  I take my health seriously, but don’t take my life too seriously.  I spend time with the ones I love and I have my priorities in order.  And every February I stop to think about what that day means to me and I smile that I am here to think about it.

What does your cancerversary mean to you?