Happy Cancerversary Baby

Got you on my mi-i-ind …

Those of you who grew up in Australia in the 1970s will get that reference, and for everyone else, I present the fabulousness that is Little River Band:

OK, now I’ve gotten that out of my system, I want to talk about the fact that it’s two years today since I was told I had breast cancer. You may be forgiven for being a little confused, given that today is the 5th of October but since I started this blog I’ve been banging on about how I was diagnosed on the 12th October. Turns out I got my dates mixed up. You may wonder how I could be confused about such a defining moment in my life. I suspect it’s a combination of having never been good with remembering dates, chemo brain and the 12th sticking in my head because that was the day that the surgeon who chopped off my breast and cut out 16 of my lymph nodes told me that he thought my cancer was terminal (turns out it wasn’t, but you can imagine why that date would stick). Anyway, I was really happy to find out that the 5th is my actual cancerversary, because it means that I am 7 whole days closer to still being alive at the five-year mark, and if I’m still alive at the five-year mark, I have the same chance of dying as the rest of the population. Yay!! Check me out finding the positive in the most horrendously negative situation. Fuck you cancer!

So, here I am, 730 days on. I’m not dead, and as far as I know, I’m not dying. 730 days ago, I had no idea whether or not I’d be alive today. 730 days ago I thought everything had been taken away from me. 730 days ago I wondered what I had done to deserve this, but 729 days ago I realised that I’d done absolutely nothing, because my cancer, like most cancer, was sporadic. Sporadic means no family history, no major risk factors, no exposure. As my oncologist told me, shit happens. I can’t tell you how much better that made me feel.

So much has happened over the past 730 days. First there was sheer terror, then pain and loss, then sickness, anger and grief. Then happiness re-emerged and hope showed up, at first just a tiny glimmer caught on the edges of my periphery. Hope is still fleeting, it comes and goes as it pleases; some days there’s no hint of it and I am cold and angry and curled over myself into a hard ball. Other times it comes, seemingly from nowhere and bathes me in its warm light, and I bask in it like a cat in the sun, turning my face to it and stretching my body in languid joy.

731 days tomorrow, and counting. Looking forward, but always knowing that the present is a gift.

breast cancer awareness month

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