Everyone celebrates milestones. It’s in our blood, it’s in our DNA. We have graduation parties. We have parties for turning 21, 30, 40, 50, and even 90 (think Betty White). We have silver anniversary parties, golden anniversary parties. We celebrate getting that first job, an A on a report card, concurring riding a bike. Passing the bar, making it into med school and some people celebrate being able to walk again. Sometimes a celebration is a blow out party. Sometimes it’s sufficient just to give a high five.
On March 20 I will be celebrating my five year anniversary of being cancer free. This is a celebration in many ways. A lot of people say this is the big one. This is where insurance premiums are supposed to go down, where it should be easier to get insurance if I didn’t have any, which I do. It’s supposed to be the benchmark where my chances go down of having the cancer come back. Go down, not ever go away because my chances will never be zero.
I’m pretty vocal about being a survivor. I don’t shy away from it, as some women do. You want to know what it was like to go through treatment, no problem. Heck, I will even show you my scar. I know women who never want to talk about having breast cancer. They want to forget about it. But you can’t. Yes, it doesn’t define who I am, but it will always be a part of me. When I need to write a description of who I am, a survivor will always be in that description.
Why am I proud to be a survivor? It’s not about the “sisterhood,” I have four older sisters. It’s not about the color pink, I was born in October and pink is my birth month color, and has always been my favorite color. It’s about being able to say I looked death in the eye and I said “not this time buddy.” That makes it a celebration.
When I finished my treatments, I didn’t go slinking to my bed licking my wounds and resumed my regular routine. I threw off my hat and let people see my bald head. I also threw a party for 70 of my closest friends and family. Who knew we could fit that many people in our house. I celebrated with my bald head and my battle scars and had a good ‘ole time.
This year, I’m celebrating again and I’m throwing myself another party. We have friends and family coming from out-of-state to help celebrate this milestone. Because it is a milestone.
I know every time this anniversary comes around it is a celebration. A celebration that needs to be acknowledged. A celebration that I made it through another year without the cancer coming back. I also know there is no guarantee I will be cancer free the rest of my life. I know I need to be more diligent than other people about my health. I also know no one has a guarantee when their time will be up.
But I do know, as I travel along this journey we call life, I will celebrate the milestones in my life. Because that is what we do.
Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.