A person sits thoughtfully on a white cancer awareness ribbon

My 5th Cancerversary

My 5th cancerversary was June 21 meaning I was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago. I’m not the kind of person to celebrate a birthday or marriage anniversary, but I plan on honoring my 5th cancerversary. It’s just I don’t know how my husband, my children, and my parents react to it.

My reaction compared to my husband and my mother, as my caregivers, was totally different. Their responses didn’t surprise me. Also, it was interesting that all of us knew my cancerversary coming, but nobody wanted to mention it.

My husband first spoke up with tears in his eyes

When I was cooking dinner and chatting with my daughter on the same day as my cancerversary, my husband came to us and somewhat hesitated. He finally opened up and said five years ago, I ended up in the hospital emergency room. It started when my doctor called our house and asked me to go to emergency immediately.

At the time, I was taking my parents to have their annual check-up. My husband and my daughter, who was at first-year university, went to the clinic. My husband took me to emergency right away, and my daughter took my parents home. My older son was in UBC medical school two thousand kilometers away, and he rushed home the next day. My younger son was only 15 then. Nobody told him the details, and he checked the Internet like a mad person. That’s what my husband said to me about how I started my cancer journey.

Remembering the moments after my diagnosis

I heard from my mother later that after my daughter drove my parents home, she and my mother hugged each other and cried badly. My elder son never showed any emotion after he got back and like an emergency room doctor, he engaged with the other doctors on my lung cancer team and organized everything. Several years later, when I asked my elder son, he told me after he got the news, he had a heart-out cry, and he never cried since. My husband told me he took my younger son to basketball practice the second day I was in the hospital, and when my younger son got out of the car, he turned back, put on a strong face and asked whether mommy would be ok.

I’m not an easy person to shed tears. I didn’t cry when my husband talked to me about my cancerversary, but since the second day whenever I wrote it down, I cried like a baby.

My mother burst into tears

I mentioned to my parents very carefully when I talked about my cancerversary. I didn’t want to upset them since they are old of 86 and 85. My mother burst into tears, and she had been thinking and feeling dreadful as we approached this day.

When I spent 15 days in an emergency five years ago, both my father and mother ended up in the different emergency rooms one week apart due to the abnormalities of their heart beatings. My elder son took care of his grandparents in the hospital.

Due to high emotional stress, my mother from then on suffered PTSD. She always had a nightmare, and during the day, she would feel something horrible would happy. My mother has an amazing memory but it doesn’t serve her well by continually remembering the ordeal, and my father’s memory faded rapidly for these five years. My parents were in good health, but since then, my parents look frail and weak.

I was rather calm

I reacted totally differently. I have always thought about my cancer journey. The first thing that comes to my mind, as days go by, is incredible gratitude that I’ve still lived today and seen my children grow up. My husband demonstrates to me the true meaning of “for better or for worse”. My parents give me their unconditional love. I’ve become aware of what life is all about, my responsibilities in this life, and I've learned to accept myself. I feel I'm to be made to be a cancer advocate...

We continue living with cancer

I wouldn’t say getting cancer is a blessing. Cancer is a monster of which we have no control. It’s a burden too vast for a human to carry. However, since we have to live with cancer, we can either die with misery or live with our head high.

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