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.
Cancer terminology isn't always easy to understand but in this post, hopefully you'll understand two of them much better.
Most cancer survivors are familiar with the term “cancerversary,” but those outside the realm of the world of cancer may not be. A cancerversary is a way to mark time and to remember significant dates.
Cancerversaries are decided by each individual person. There are no right or wrong ways to choose the date of the event. Some people choose to remember the date they received their cancer diagnosis, while others choose to mark the date they had cancer surgically removed from their bodies.
Some people mark this milestone in meaningful ways, while others choose to ignore it completely. I have chosen to celebrate. Each year, on the date of my surgery, I throw a big party. I want to always remember the day cancer was removed from my body.
Like many others, the first time I celebrated a cancerversary, I had very mixed emotions. It was a difficult time for me. I wasn't really excited about celebrating a day that so drastically altered my life. Not only did the cancer disappear that day, but along with it went my breasts.
Each cancerversary since my initial celebration has been different. On the first year's celebration, I asked my family to join me as we went to a favorite restaurant. The event was quiet and peaceful, albeit joyful. I was so thankful to be alive.
The next year, and the years since that original cancerversary, I've decided to become more creative in my celebrations. I've planned family vacations around that specific day or have decided to try a new adventure. Whatever the case may be, it's been important to celebrate that fateful day by doing something fun. Instead of focusing on the pain and agony that went along with surgery and post diagnosis treatment, I celebrate with gratitude the fact that I am alive and doing well.
Besides celebrating a cancerversary, I have also learned to celebrate NED. “Who's Ned?” you say. Well, it's not a who, it's a what. NED is an acronym for the medical terminology no evidence of disease. Since there is no current cure for breast cancer, doctors will refer to a medical condition as being in a state of remission or NED. Both of these terms refer to the fact that, as far as medical testing shows, there is no active cancer growing in the body.
Celebrating cancerversaries and being cancer free are important. For the cancer survivor, each day, week, month, or year past the initial diagnosis of cancer is symbolic. These celebrations mark life instead of death.
Those blessed with good health may not understand the need for those affected by cancer to celebrate these specific milestones, but if you're ever invited to participate in a cancerversary celebration, please attend. As you witness the strength and resolve of the person celebrating, perhaps you'll be able to understand a little more clearly why these dates are so important and why we must celebrate.