A cake with four candles

Four Year Cancerversary

Last updated: January 2022

Every year that clicks off on this journey calls for celebration. This celebration feels like an additional birthday. In a way, it is - a rebirth if you will on not taking a single thing in this life for granted.

Are stable scans possible?

I had my four-month scans just days before my “cancerversary” date and all of the anxious thoughts were trickling in one by one as they do almost an entire week beforehand. As many of you know, “scanxiety” is so very real. I went into the scans hopeful that I could come out celebrating another four-month lease on life and keep going, enjoy the holidays with my family without worries or additional appointments to attend, and ultimately stay on the same medication. It’s a way of thinking that I have never had to embark upon, but it definitely makes me grateful.

Not only am I grateful for stable scans, but I am also grateful to have been on my current medication of Tagrisso for those four years as a first line therapy. I remember on that first visit with my oncologist and he was going through the possibilities of medication and he mentioned Tagrisso being an oral drug I was hopeful that would be my path. I heard of others having been on the drug while in trial and had great success. The more I learned the about the medication - the more hopeful that I became. Now when newly diagnosed patients poll the longevity of this drug, I get to say 4 years. It seems surreal. The same hope I was given when I started this journey is the same hope that I now get to offer.

Never give up hope

The other side of offering hope to others is also offering empathy to others when their outcomes are not the same as mine. Their scans don’t give them the results that they want and resistance to medication develops. I often don’t know what to say to people.

I think the most important part of this anniversary regardless of the path is to keep hope alive. To never give up hope and desire to keep fighting. Some days are easier than others in this department. Some days are just downright hard. Some days we would rather do anything else than go to the doctor for labs even one more time. Some days we are on autopilot and simply just go through the motions of it all. This is merely something that we just have to do.

I firmly believe that in spite of the journey we get to find joy in the journey. If we look hard enough we can find the silver lining. How in the world do you find joy in pain and suffering and fear and worry? You celebrate the good days. I got dressed today—celebrate that. I went back to work part-time—celebrate that. I remembered not to burn supper on the stove - celebrate that. I made it another year - celebrate that.

Celebrate YOU today

How do you celebrate you might ask. In your own way. What does celebration look like for you? Does it look like dinner from your favorite restaurant? Does it look like going to your favorite store shopping and perusing the aisle? Does it look like getting your favorite dessert? Does it look like coffee with friends on the front porch? Whatever that looks like to you is just fine. The focus here is to do something for you because you deserve it. You deserve to be celebrated. You deserve to celebrate you.

Perhaps, this idea of celebrating yourself is new to some of you. It was new to me also. I have found small little ways to reward myself for things. It takes me all day long to do the laundry. I put it in the wash and forget about it and then remember and swap the loads out and then forget again and now it’s tomorrow and the clothes in the wash now need to be rewashed only for me to forget again - this drives my husband crazy. When I finally do get it right, I reward myself with a nap or a snack like bribery to myself. Find a way to reward yourself and celebrate even the smallest milestones. The more you do for yourself the easier it will become for you to celebrate you.

Let’s face it - nobody here volunteered for this journey. None of us would be here by choice, right? I think it is perfectly fine to celebrate the milestones as well as the mere good days.

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