1 year cancer-free
I haven’t really told anyone that I just passed my one year cancerversary, one year of being out of treatment and cancer-free. A lot of people thought it would be a time to celebrate. Months ago, I wanted to celebrate. I thought about planning a party. As the date crept closer, I realized I was having a lot of unexpectedly complicated feelings about it.
On the day itself, I found myself craving solitude, to be alone with my thoughts. I needed to respect the knot in my stomach and invest the time to untangle it, to investigate it. I realized I am even more a stranger to my own life than I felt a year ago. I had some idea in my head about what kind of progress I would see by now, that maybe I would be really muscular and strong with long flowing hair and a new zeal for life. Anytime I fall short of that, I feel guilty.
The rest of the world is so eager to sweep this whole cancer chapter under the rug, there is no room for rest, reflection, support, patience, kindness. After all, cancer is SO uncomfortable to talk about, people will avoid it any way they can. I remained very calm throughout treatment, waiting until I was declared to be in complete remission to really break down.
Meanwhile, I deal with a lot of guilt for my ongoing disabilities and caregiving needs, somehow feeling like any long or late term side effects from treatment are a moral failing, rather than something totally out of my control.
I don’t have a clear picture of what I though I would be doing a year out of treatment, but I am grateful I took the time to check in with myself. I remembered that I’ve had many successes over the last year that deserve celebration. Many of my accomplishments aren’t tangible— I became braver, more assertive, set more boundaries, amassed a little wisdom—so they are easy to overlook. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, and I hope you all feel proud of yourselves too!