I’m not a superstitious person normally but when it comes to celebrating cancer milestones I am – BIG time. If a black cat crosses in front of me while I’m driving or walking, I think about it for a few seconds then I forget. Counting the days, months, years that I started or finished treatments, dates and number of surgeries etc. I’m super scared that I might be messing with my karma. I know it’s crazy but after reading so many celebratory stories ‘I’m one year cancer free!’, ‘this day two years ago I was diagnosed!’, ‘I’ve reached my 5 year cancervessary!’, ‘I remember the day I rang the bell!’…and then the cancer comes back… and they write a post titled ‘the post I never wanted to write’. All of the ‘cheerleading’ makes me extremely uncomfortable. I would say for most this is what helps them get through. From the day of diagnoses it’s like you’re in a survival mode, auto-pilot, and an adrenaline rush that lasts until it’s all over. That’s when life suddenly hit me. HARD. Just writing about it makes me nervous. At the end of treatment and when everything suddenly came to a halt….. that for me was the hardest to deal with on a mental level, and I guess physically as well. I know I was alive to have these feelings and still am, but it doesn’t change the struggle. There is a saying in the crappy cancer world – NED – No Evidence of Disease. This is what I am. It means after all the treatments – they can’t find any lumps, the margins are clear, bloodwork is at stable/normal levels, scans look okay etc. It doesn’t mean the cancer isn’t hiding somewhere to re-emerged. So when I’m asked ‘Are you okay now?’…I’m scared to jinx myself by saying ‘yes, fine, thanks for asking’. I say ‘I hope so’ then quickly change the subject to my crazy looking bleach blonde hair. Oblivion is where I live.
Speaking of ringing the ‘bell’. The bell in most cancer clinics are either in the chemotherapy (poison) unit and/or in the radiation units. Once you’ve finished your last treatment you can ring the bell to celebrate the milestone. People cheer, families gather and take pictures, some even bake cakes and pass it around. Before I had cancer, I had heard about the bell and thought this is great. But once I saw it with my own eyes I instantly felt that it would be bad karma for me to ring it. Why? Because I don’t want to celebrate bad things in my life, I want to celebrate good things. I’m afraid if I continuously celebrate first, lasts etc. the cancer will come back. I want to be ready if that happens… it’s me being realistic and precautious. If one day I forget that I had cancer than great but for now I remember and I don’t celebrate. The downside to the bell is that there are patients in the cancer units who are undergoing treatments that will NEVER ever end and therefore they won’t be ringing any bells. My feelings about karma aside, I find this insensitive. Some in this position probably unselfishly enjoy the accomplishments of their fellow cancer buddies, but I’m pretty sure it’s very very sad for them and their families to witness bell ringing parties. What do you think? It’s cancer controversy.
My last day of chemo in June 2014, my mom was with me and she wanted me to the ring the bell. I thought ok now I have to explain to her my superstitions towards this. I knew she wouldn’t be sad or persist if I didn’t but I also knew that I’d have to do something to mark the occasion. When we were leaving I just stood beside it and she took a picture. Then I gave IT the middle finger and left. Yup that’s what I did. Now what I really wanted to do was smash an obnoxiously expensive bottle of champagne against the wall underneath it. Then break out cases of said champagne and pass it around. Wouldn’t that be more fun than cake and clapping?….hahahaha
Some pictures of chemo (poison) days circa winter/spring 2014…