As with many people living with cancer or who currently have no evidence of disease (NED), the anniversaries are imprinted on us: dates, months, years. Usually they are marked by a check-up around the date that something significant happened. I know exactly what I was doing on Friday, 30 Jan 2009.
That was the day I heard from my GP:
Well, you have a little cancer.
Life-changing words to say the least. And I don't know if I would call the 'moderately differentiated infiltrating ductal carcinoma and intermediate grade ductal carcinoma in-situ' "little": it measured around 20mm.
It's now 3 years later and although the shock of that news - and subsequent assaults on my body in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation - is dwindling, I find that the closer I get to my 5-year-post-intensive-treatment mark, the more the fear that it will return creeps up on me.
It's a bittersweet anniversary: I can count my blessings every day that I am alive. I know not to "sweat the small stuff" and I know to "stop and smell the roses". But I still struggle with fatigue, memory and word loss, having zero oestrogen, and the side-effects of my regular ongoing treatment. It's also been a financial set-back and has put a (possibly indefinite) hold on any family plans we might have had. I worry that I will get sick again, just when things are looking good in terms of work, fitness, love, and life in general. I get frustrated with this New Normal and sometimes just want my Old Life back.
Having said that, without this roller-coaster of an event, I wouldn't have got to know many of the wonderful people I have since met both online and in real life, nor would I be the proud businesswoman running not one but three ventures: Hatiheri, YES! IELTS and my English language tutoring service.
Tomorrow will be the first of many anniversaries for the year.
I'm hoping there will continue to be many more.