5 years- 60 months, 260 weeks 1825 days, 43800 hours, 2628000 minutes, 157680000 seconds of #NoChemo. This five year milestone is something I’ve been waiting on, well, for five years! I.am.officially. CANCER- FREE!!!!
The American Cancer Society clinically defines a person as a cancer survivor “from the day of their cancer diagnosis onward, for as long as they are alive”. I believe cancerversaries are as unique as the individuals who choose to celebrate them. It may be the exact day of your diagnosis or it may even be several important dates that occur throughout an individual’s cancer journey like surgeries or the end of a specific treatment. I certainly did NOT feel like a survivor on January 6, 2016 (my diagnosis date). But on June 22, 2016, I completed #chemotherapy treatment, rang the hell out of that victory bell, and finally felt like a survivor. This would be the day I celebrate my survivorship- my Cancerversary- on my LAST DAY OF CHEMO. At the time, I was already in #remission but desperately looked forward to that very important milestone in 2021. To be clear, complete remission means that tests, physical exams and scans show that all clinical signs of cancer are gone. If one remains in complete remission for five years or more (that’s your girl!), some doctors may say that you are cured, or cancer-free ( P R A I S E G O D ).
This special Cancerversary isn’t just a time of celebration; it is also a time of reflection and remembrance. For some survivors and those who love them, cancerversaries can be emotionally challenging. A few weeks ago, I noticed myself becoming very emotional and in the back of my mind, I knew the reason. I didn’t expect myself to be on the verge of tears every day as the barrage of memories from four years ago began to resurface. I thought I processed all of those feelings but apparently, there are still some that begged attention and surfaced at unexpected times. For example, I visited one of my best friends in Miami a few weeks ago. Fiending for a hot *married* girl summer night out, we put on some dope dresses that we didn’t get to rock all 2020 ( thanks covid *side eye*) and our highest heels that didn’t see a pavement for more than a year (again, thanks covid *sucks teeth*). About 10 minutes in these Miami streets, 4 out of 5 of my toes on one foot were completely numb af! Now, we can blame the fact that your girl hasn’t worn a pair of heels in a minute mostly because I was inside the house for more than a year OR we can call a spade a spade and say what it was: NEUROPATHY- nerve damage caused by chemo. Within a few minutes, my mind traveled back in time and remembered the negative effects on my body that stemmed from chemotherapy and radiation. Severe tingling in my hands and toes, unexplainable pain, horrible mouth sores, drastic fatigue and of course my bald head among many, many other things. Chemo helped save my life but also did some significant damage, hence why my LAST DAY OF CHEMO is so important to me. Though only a memory, those hours in Miami transported me back in time to months of tangible trauma and I began to feel sad. Sad about just how much my life has changed post cancer AND post cancer treatment ( I will surely blog about post cancer life during Covid-19)
Let me be very VERY clear: those sad feelings can N E V E R trump the life-altering growth, gratefulness and gratitude I now possess because of my cancer diagnosis.I started putting my joy and happiness above all else. My spirit is fiercer and I am more resilient.I have no desire to be accepted by others or live a life others expect of me. No one can tell me a damn thing because I SLAYED CANCER!!!! It has become such a privilege to speak to any and everyone about what I have gone through and how with God, all things are possible. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I’ll forever be appreciative to my medical team, the family and friends who helped me, SLAY CANCER and the many people who showed me kindness. Even though there are days when I ALMOST forget it all happened, I can still be overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. The scars and residual pain quickly remind me how far I’ve made it and how blessed I am to be here. No one knows what the future holds and I will always need to be on high alert….but I do know one thing, Cancer gave me just as much as it took from me. And for that I am grateful as I celebrate THEE cancerversary mostly every cancer patient hopes and prays to celebrate. HAPPY 5 YEAR CANCERVERSARY TO ME!!!!!!!!!!