I used to love October, but after being diagnosed with cancer on Oct. 12 — twice — I dread the month.
October used to be my favorite month. I was always the annoying friend who marked their calendar for the release of pumpkin spice lattes. I planned my Halloween costume weeks in advance and by chance, my daughter ended up being born on Halloween.
October isn’t my favorite month anymore.
In fact, the thought of October makes me sick to my stomach. I am filled with a sense of dread and despair as it creeps closer. There’s one date that’s scarier than Halloween for me… and that is Oct. 12.
Oct. 12. The date on which in 2018 and 2019 respectively, my life came crashing down on me. Oct. 12 is my “cancerversary."
Yes, only I would be diagnosed twice, a year apart on the same exact day. That’s just my type of luck… To be honest, I would have respected the universe more if they made it on Friday the 13th or something. Maybe that I could have understood better.
“Cancerversaries” have become a normal and celebrated event in the cancer space. I often wish people a “Happy Cancerversary” and smile when I see their cancerversary cakes. However, behind the happy and the cake is a sadness not often shown to the world — a sense of fear that more Oct.12s are on the horizon. For me, there’s not much that is happy on that day other than the fact that I’m “not dead yet.”
There are so many emotions surrounding the milestones in our cancer experiences. Most people look at us and expect that we feel grateful to be here. Some see us as inspiring as we blow out the candles on our cancer cakes.
I am coming up on my fourth Oct. 12 since my initial diagnosis. Instead of feeling grateful or inspiring, I feel numb. I miss the person I was before that stupid day.
I wish I could have just one more Halloween with my daughter without a monster following me. A monster that has taken so much of me. A monster that haunts me everyday. This monster isn’t like the boogey man. This monster is real. It has tried to kill me. It continues to kill my friends. This monster is cancer and I just want it to stop.
I share this all because I want you to know that for those of us who have seen the monster… it’s never really over. We can never forget. Our Octobers have lost their sense of wonder and magic. In its place is fear and anxiety. We do our best to keep going, but with one eye always looking back. I want to normalize these feelings. I want you to know it’s OK. I hope that your own cancerversary feels a little easier knowing that you’re not alone.
Oh and if you’re reading this as a friend or family member of a cancer patient… make sure you get them a cake! We at least need one thing to look forward to on our cancerversaries.
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