Celebrating the End of Cancer Treatment

After enduring cancer, how does one celebrate completing treatments? A woman writes about celebrating all of her sister's successes, no matter how big or small.

For the longest time, we did not know that cancer would end with my sister surviving. Sadly, that is a truth that many families face with cancer. On the other end of the spectrum and everywhere in between are families and patients who reach the end. They go through varying amounts of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, surgeries and a combination of several of those treatments. Some may even endure stem cell transplants to gain remission. And in the end, for many, treatment does come to an end, and remission is achieved.

For those patients, I often wonder what the end looks like. After enduring cancer, how does one celebrate being told that they are done with treatments?

I know that with my sister and me, we had certain rituals throughout cancer. For every chemo treatment in the hospital, she ate spaghetti and meatballs. For bad news and for good news, we have banana splits. That was a feat because the cafeteria did not have banana splits on the menu, which meant ordering each item individually. I will say, becoming friends with the kitchen staff helped immensely to make it easier. Patients ring a bell before leaving the floor to discharge when a transplant occurs at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver. But what about patients who do not have transplants? Or patients who have several rounds of chemo and gain remission right away? Even if their journey was "easy," they too should celebrate beating the beast that is cancer.

It may not be for everyone, but while attending the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) event in spring of 2019, I met a nurse from New York who told me what her clinic did. They have bubble parties. That's right, nothing big, just blowing bubbles. It is a physical release that patients get to experience when done. A blowing out of the bad that was cancer and deep breaths as they begin their new journey as survivors. It may not seem like much, but having gone through cancer, sometimes the smallest things are all you need. Because when going through something like cancer, the smallest things no longer seem so small.

Cancer has a way of putting things in perspective more so than one may ever believe. Simple things in life are treasured, and celebrating becomes such a bigger deal than it used to be for so many. Blowing bubbles is a simple pleasure, and I think it is a distinctive way to celebrate cancer coming to an end and a celebration of new beginnings.

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