Updated: Feb 4
In the "Mrs. Capital City America 2022" post from a few days ago I mentioned that this past March was my secondchanceversary and promised a post on why that celebration though so meaningful and one to be truly grateful to have can also be quite difficult to celebrate. In fact, March 25, 2020- the day of my bilateral mastectomy is the day I celebrate because it was the day the cancer was removed and my surgical oncologist sweetly said as they wheeled me back- "when you wake up you will be cancer free". Though I had 4 rounds of chemo treatments ahead after that surgery and 25 rounds of radiation (and each of those final days were celebrated once they were completed) I think of the day of my bilateral mastectomy as my secondchanceversary- my day to "celebrate."
So why did I choose such a funny name? Why did I not go with something signifying surviving cancer which most people do? For me it was about power and taking all the power that cancer took from me BACK. As most of you reading this know, this disease comes in like a wrecking ball from the moment you hear the words "you have breast cancer." It takes from you, it takes from those who love you and it most certainly leaves a path of destruction and heartache along the way for you to wade through. It is only the warrior that cancer chose that has the power to allow any light to shine through the darkness during the storm. No one can make it happen for you and no one can will it to happen. It truly becomes a choice of the warrior to make each day and some days it just seems like sunny days are so far away and that darkness will forever remain. You find yourself longing for the naïve days that came before the diagnosis that you took for granted. You find yourself longing for what used to seem like a simple ache or pain to be just that again. However that new ache turns into panic at 2am and 30 minutes of research as it startles you awake only to cause more anxiety and worry while you scan the pages of google on "bone cancer". So when my first anniversary came on March 25, 2021 I started to write a post on Facebook to celebrate my surviving cancer day and realized as I typed the word "cancer" it felt like I was allowing this disease to continue to have power over me and I could not bare to allow that to happen for one more day and I certainly would not allow it in a day to celebrate. It was then I realized that this surgery and each anniversary signified a second chance at life and that I would not tarnish that special day by naming it anything with the word cancer in it. It was out of this new found strength that rose the name that I now call each of my yearly celebrations- my SecondChanceversary.
So lets talk about why this joyful day is hard...at least two years in to it. You would think that a second chance is a day to celebrate. A day to be happy with loved ones. A day to raise a glass and toast to new adventures and the life ahead. But in fact, this is one of the most unanticipated hardest days for me. For those of you that have gone through this storm you may know exactly what I am talking about or maybe I am just alone in this but nonetheless this a hard day. This year my husband made reservations at our favorite steak house- The Chapin Chophouse to celebrate. I was a bit anxious but excited when I woke up and knew what the date represented. But as the day went on the anxiety grew more prevalent and I was not as excited to go to dinner that evening. As I was getting ready Josh said to me "are you ready to celebrate?" And that is when it hit me. No I was not. It was like I did not want to think about it, I did not want to toast to it, I did not want to be reminded...and I said to him without even thinking..."could we not celebrate and just go for a normal date night dinner." Josh is pretty entuned to my post cancer quirks so without hesitation he said of course. No explanation needed (guys take note- many times those going through this have no idea why both during treatment and after we feel the way we do so if we do not know "why" ourselves please do not ask us to explain it you). That evening we went and had a wonderful dinner...a wonderful regular evening. Maybe it was the longing for the "before cancer feeling" that made me not want to celebrate in a typical fashion. Or maybe the celebration itself was the returning to normalcy that made it that much more special. I can not explain it but I know it was a wonderful evening and one that was much needed. I say all this to tell you if you feel this way after cancer - do not worry - when you are on this side of the storm- do what feels right and accept a new norm the best you can even if that means celebrating without celebrating.