Celebrating milestones along a cancer journey is an important way to remember how far we've come. This post will offer ideas for your next celebration.
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
In another few months, I'll celebrate my fourth cancerversary. Some people choose to celebrate the day they were diagnosed, but I've chosen to celebrate the day cancer was removed from my body – July 9, 2014. Every year since I had my breasts removed, I celebrate big. The reason I celebrate it twofold. First, I want to remember how far I've come since that fateful day, and second, I want to celebrate the fact that I'm still alive. I beat cancer!
So, what is a cancerversary anyway? You may not be familiar with this word. A cancerversary is the anniversary of a specific time, date or event in the life of a person touched by cancer. Since each cancer journey is unique and different, individuals may choose different milestones to celebrate.
Some of the more common milestones to celebrate include:
- The anniversary of a cancer diagnosis
- The anniversary of cancer surgery
- The completion of radiation or chemotherapy treatment
- Results from tests that show treatment is working
- A diagnosis of NED (No Evidence of Disease)
These are just a few of the many milestones people celebrate, but a cancerversary is individual and can be anything you'd like it to be.
It's important to celebrate the special milestones along your cancer journey. By celebrating, you acknowledge the difficulties you've overcome and shift your focus toward the future.
Here are some examples of ways to commemorate your cancerversary:
- Reflection: It's always important to look back and reflect on how far you've come. Perhaps you're a note taker or someone who enjoys journaling. Jotting down your feelings, treatments or other cancer related events will help you remember your journey. If you're not a pen and ink enthusiast, you may find blogging helpful. A blog is an online, digital diary of sorts. You have the ability to add photos or blog posts whenever you choose.
- Get away: Go on a vacation, take a trip and visit a destination you've always wanted to visit. This is a great way to mark a special milestone on your cancer journey. Making new memories while in a relaxing setting can be very therapeutic.
- Make your mark: You may want to celebrate your progress by leaving a mark on society. Planting a tree is a good way to do that. Trees are symbolic and represent new growth or life. If you're artistic, you may be able to leave your mark on the wall of a community center or other venue. Be sure to ask permission before leaving an indelible mark in a public place.
- Cross an item off your bucket list: Perhaps you've been longing to do something exciting and you've had it on your list of things to do for some time. If you're physically able, go for it! This is a wonderful way to celebrate you. If you don't have a bucket list and need some ideas of fun things to do, you can visit https://www.bucketlist.org and create your own list through their free online service.
- Join a community celebration: One of the best ways to celebrate a cancerversary is to do it in the company of others. Perhaps a survivor's walk or other community event would be the perfect way to mark this special occasion.
- Throw a party: Many like to celebrate their cancer milestone with loved ones and friends by letting them know their support is valued. A party is a fun way of celebrating good fortune. Blow up balloons, order a cake, and wear a silly hat! Do whatever you choose to make the day a special one for yourself. And if you choose to throw a bra-burning party, keep a hose handy to douse those rogue flames.
- Give back: A beautiful way of celebrating your special milestone is to help someone who may be beginning their own cancer journey. You can offer love and support by sharing your experiences, by volunteering, or just by listening.
- Pamper yourself: You are special, and you deserve to be pampered! Visit a spa, enjoy a play, see a movie, take a creative arts class or find another way to show yourself some love and attention.
- Set a goal: Since you've reached your cancerversary, why not set a new goal for your next milestone? Your goal can be anything you'd like it to be.
Whether or not you have cancer, there's always a reason to celebrate. One of the main reasons we celebrate cancerversaries is because we're thankful to be alive. This year, I'm celebrating big! I'm going on an international trip to a destination I've dreamed of visiting for the past forty years. I can hardly wait!
Cancer is life changing and it's a hard, hard road but it isn't always a death sentence, for those of us who continue the fight, we hope you'll share in our joy as we reach new milestones along the way. If you're invited to participate in a cancerversary, please accept the invitation and marvel at the tenacity of the person celebrating.