My First Cancerversary

September 11th. A crummy date, for many reasons. One of them being that this is the date, one year ago, I was told:

You have breast cancer.

I remember my doctor telling me it would be a rough year, and I thought, A YEAR?! That is way too long! And yet now, here I am. One year, exactly. A year of hospitals, surgeries, poison, burning, anxiety, sickness, and survival.

I remember walking out into the street in a daze. I have cancer, I have cancer. I remember emailing my girlfriends: Ok, this is going to be a pretty intense email, but I have cancer. Fuckkkkk. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence. I remember stumbling over to the pharmacy to fill the prescription for anti-anxiety meds that my doctor said I would likely require to get to sleep for the next few nights. I thought, no way, I’ll be fine.

I popped my first pill that night.

I remember coming home and Googling my cancer (of course). I remember reading some really scary things about it and seeing the words AGGRESSIVE and POORER PROGNOSIS over and over. I emailed my doctor with the subject: First Freakout Email.

I remember my little sister coming over and how we sat on the couch and cried without talking. Then we, along with my husband, realized we still needed to eat, so we went grocery shopping. My first realization that life does not suddenly stop when you are in a crisis. It goes on, whether you like it or not.

We walked to the grocery store and I felt extreme rage at everyone I saw. I hated the young mom with her baby in a stroller. I hated the happy couples. I hated them all. Why were people going on, as if nothing had happened? Why were they allowed to be happy? My life had been destroyed. Why hadn’t theirs?

I don’t remember what I ate that night. Probably not very much, which was my trend for the month after my diagnosis.

I remember going to sleep, wondering how I would ever face the next day, and the days after that. Wondering how I’d ever get a grip on these foreign concepts – cancer, chemo, antibodies, hormones, fertility.

And here I am, one year later, with a far greater knowledge of these things and many more than I ever imagined I might possess.

I remember thinking, I am going to dieI might not make it through the year. I might never see the next season of Homeland.

As it turns out, I am very much alive. I made it through year one post-cancer. The first several years are the most critical. Every year is a milestone. Every year, I get closer to the possibility of more years.

This date will always be significant in my life. It is the day my life changed. The day I lost a large chunk of what innocence I still had. The day I became Steph AC (after-cancer) and said goodbye to Steph BC (before-cancer). The day I became a “cancer survivor” whether I wanted that title or not.

I will never forget that day.

I somehow made it through Year One. There were times I wasn’t sure I would. But I did. And I’m hopeful that Year Two will be a lot better, and involve a lot more fun, and a lot more hair.

Happy Cancerversary to me.

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24 thoughts on “My First Cancerversary

  1. Happy Cancer-versary, sweet girl. I’m coming up on year two, and have flippable hair. Yay! I dreaded that one year anniversary, but as it came and went I focused so much on all of the awesome people who helped, I was just so grateful. The one year mastectomy anniversary was harder and my memories went darker places… and many bottles of wine were involved. xoxo

  2. Happy Cancerversary Duck!! Can’t wait for many more milestones and many more years of you making me laugh while I drink juice and reminding me what I was saying 3.5 seconds before. I love you and am in awe of your strength, resilience, and beauty!!! xoxxxx

  3. Steph
    You may not remember me but I am friends with your cousin Rachel and I think we carpooled to hebrew school with Alex way back in grade 3 or 4. I have been reading your blog all year, and you are such a strong inspiring woman! Congrats on being Steph AC and hoping for many many years of cancer-free anniversaries!

  4. Stephanie you have been an inspiration for everyone. You are a cancer survival. This December it will be two years for Sherwin. Some day we will talk how lucky you both are. Your blog makes it easy to understand
    . Happy healthy New year to you and your beautiful family. Love RHODA and Sherwin.

  5. beautifully written, you capture me under every word. I truly hope there’s many more years ahead and your strength on fighting for survival gets stronger and stronger every year. Just reading about what its like in your shoes just helps me understand so clearly what it is you have to go through, your thoughts and emotions. Yes society are use to hearing the word cancer, chemo, and the result in loosing hair. But what doesn’t come to the surface, is the emotional roller-coaster and everything else the word cancer crashes down upon.. I thank you for letting me come alongside you in your journey and have you open up my eyes . I truly do hope the only way is only ever going to be up, i certainly shall be here supporting you and wishing nothing but the best . Again a very beautiful blog/blogger that has captured my heart.

  6. Good for you Steph…may it be the first of many. As a 9 yr participant of the WEWC, i too was given the unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer last Dec. I finished 6 months of chemo and just had my mastectomy yesterday. I have been meaning to write to you to thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It has been very helpful and made me feel less alone on this journey. Good luck to you girl!

    1. Thank you Mary, that is so nice to hear… although not the part about your diagnosis! Congrats on getting through 6 months of chemo, I’m sure you are very relieved! I hope you’re recovering well from your surgery. It’s not an easy one but you should be feeling a lot better soon. Best wishes to you.

  7. Happy Cancerversary Stephanie. I met your parents a few years ago in Richmond Hill at an orientation for WEWC, when I realized who you were, talking so eloquently on stage at closing ceremonies I was absolutely stunned. Year 1 down, and many more happier ones ahead 🎉

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