21 Jan


I have a lot of cancerversaries to celebrate each year.  The anniversary of the day I found my lump, the day I had my kidney removed, the day I had emergency brain surgery, the day I last had a seizure, the last day I spent the night in the hospital… they just never seem to end.

I like celebrating these cancerversaries – they’re a reminder that I’m still alive and enjoying life despite the odds stacked against me.  Celebrating life is wonderful – it’s just like celebrating a birthday.  After all, when I had my brain surgery, my mom was told not to expect me to wake up, and she brought the hymnal that her church had given her for her services as their pianist while she was in high school so that she could sing to me while I died.    When she arrived, I was conscious and talking, and demanded to read the Diana Gabaldon book she’d brought along, since I’d been, well… dying to read it for the previous two years.  I think it’s great to be able to commemorate pulling through an experience like that.

Not everyone has the same opinion, though.  My mom was rather put off with the idea of celebrating – the thought made her sad.  My doctor wasn’t a huge help, either – I wanted to design a cake in the shape of a renal cell carcinoma cell (sort of reminiscent of the collection of stuffed plush toys in the shape of STD cells that I once ran across), but when I asked him what the cells looked like, he simply replied, “clear”.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how to design a clear cake.

I also found a great song for my cancerversary celebrations with the help of a sleepless night in Geneva during which I resorted to watching MTV.  It was called “Kick the Bucket” by the Charlie Winston Band, and it proclaimed, We all kick the bucket in the end, the end while cheerful, animated skeletons danced around on the screen.  It made me laugh, although others found the humor a bit morbid.

Having anniversaries to look forward to helps, actually – for example, the anniversary of my first year free of overnight hospital stays was due to fall during my longest friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh.  I was determined to spend that anniversary with them (she and her husband did, after all, honor me by giving me a Scripture reading during the ceremony and by donating to a kidney cancer research foundation in my name) and not languishing in the hospital again.

So, my philosophy is when a cancerversary comes along, dive into it and then continue full speed ahead until the next one!


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