Bladder Cancerversary: Reflecting on Year 2
In the cancer community, we acknowledge the anniversary date of our diagnosis. We call it our "cancerversary." I say acknowledge because celebrating the day you were given probably the worst news of your life is a little strange. We all take a moment or the whole day to reflect, cry a little, scream a little, celebrate ourselves or just find a way to drown out the day.
How each person approaches the anniversary of their cancer diagnosis is going to be different. They are all the correct ways to acknowledge what is a bittersweet day.
My second bladder cancerversary
On July 25th I welcomed my 2nd Cancerversary. It marked 2 years since I drove myself to the ER and found out a few hours later I had a terminal disease.
Going from having no clue bladder cancer was a thing, to it shaping my entire life has been quite a ride. Year 2 has certainly been a much different experience from Year 1. Last year on my very first bladder cancerversary I was road tripping down to the Georgia coast for a getaway. This year it was a quiet Sunday at home and I didn't feel like acknowledging it at all.
As normal as brushing my teeth
Cancer has been my whole world for two years now and these days my constant stream of appointments, treatments, and scans just feels like part of my routine. Getting up early for infusion feels as normal as brushing my teeth before bed.
Bladder cancer is part of my daily life. I did get gorgeous flowers and a massage gift certificate from my husband which was greatly appreciated, and the team at BladderCancer.net sent a very sweet care package to mark the occasion. There were many texts and messages sent from my family and friends with words of encouragement that meant so much on what was a really strange anniversary.
Let them eat cancerversary cake
There was one tradition I partake in that I think EVERY cancer patient should enjoy on their cancerversary. A movement that started within the adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer sphere and has taken off in other groups is the cancerversary cake.
Some folks get really fancy, and some folks use cake alternatives (ie. pies, cupcakes, ice cream), but the intention is all the same. Celebrating another year of not dying with your favorite dessert. You will often see people have the words "good job not dying," "not dead yet," or "F Cancer" written on their respective dessert. I decided to enjoy my favorite vanilla cupcakes with heavenly cream cheese icing.
Reflecting on year two
Thinking back on the last two years I have so many thoughts and emotions. There is the pain and anger that I have had to experience this horrible disease in the first place, sadness that my journey will not end as a "chronic cancer patient." Happiness that I'm still here and living my life.
Stepping into now my 3rd year of being a bladder cancer fighter is strange, but I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that I will continue to respond to treatment and have the ability to live a very full life. I am encouraged in the steps I'm taking to achieve the career goals I had before my diagnosis. But most importantly I'm just happy to still be here when I wasn't supposed to make it at all.
Good job not dying
However you decide to mark the anniversary of your cancer diagnosis, just know it is the correct way. I hope you have the biggest slice of cake, the best massage, the laziest day in bed, or the prettiest sunrise. I am popping confetti and so happy that you have made it another year.
Tell us about your bladder cancerversary in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Have you talked to your doctor about navigating sex with bladder cancer?