Experiencing Milestones That Might Be Taken for Granted
Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. A 22nd anniversary may not seem like a big deal since it’s in between the 20th and 25th, but it was a milestone for me. This was the 5th anniversary we have celebrated since I was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell EGFR positive lung cancer in December 2013.
Focusing on life, not statitics
When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure if I would even make it to our next anniversary. Statistics for stage IV lung cancer survival were and still are grim and while I was told not to look at statistics, it’s hard to ignore them completely. Instead of obsessing about these statistics, however, I decided early on in my journey to try to focus on certain milestones in my life instead.
With two boys, the last time I had really considered milestones before my diagnosis was in my sons’ early years. Then, almost every few weeks seemed to bring a milestone — smiling, sitting, standing, walking, etc. Somewhere along the line, I stopped focusing on such small milestones and decided only to pay attention to big ones instead. Well, my cancer diagnosis changed all that and milestones of any size became important to me once more.
Celebrating the milestones in everyday life
I realized that many everyday things could be considered milestones if I stopped and thought about them. There was really no need to wait for larger occasions to celebrate such as a specially numbered wedding anniversary, a high school graduation, or a certain birthday year. As a result, I try to celebrate all possible accomplishments in my family. Maybe I can’t have a huge party every time, but there are other ways to recognize frequent milestones.
I try to take pictures of all important events in order to hold on to those memories. Yes, this annoys my family sometimes — especially when I’m recording firsts such as getting a drivers’ license, starting a new year of school, going to a new restaurant for dinner, starting a new job, etc. — but while they don’t always particularly enjoy posing for these pictures, they do enjoy looking at them later and sharing them with others.
New special occasions
I also believe in frequently having a special dessert or meal to celebrate milestones as well. I visit my oncologist every 3 months and after each visit that ends with good news, my husband and I go to a favorite local restaurant for a delicious burger and fries, wine, and dessert. I definitely don’t worry about my diet on those nights! I also like to treat my kids and husband to special treats for things like good test grades, minor holidays, and really, almost anything I can imagine!
Now, I’m not saying every day should be a celebration — because that’s certainly not possible for most people, especially those living with lung cancer. It’s helped me, though, to find a way to recognize small moments in my life and consider them important milestones even if they aren’t the ones for which I could find a Hallmark card!
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?