My Cancerversary is Looming

Normally around Christmas and New Year, I become a bit maudlin, melancholy and reflective. I suppose a part of that is natural. Winter is officially here. The days are short and dark. And a new year is on the horizon. It is a time to think and reflect. To see what has gone well and what hasn’t. What we plan to change to make the next year better. And for me, the 19th of January will forever be a date in my diary to be acknowledged.

A day I'll never forget

The date I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia... an evening phone call, around 7.30, that started a series of events that I would have never foreseen. A student in her early 20’s just enjoying being a student. And then all of a sudden she was a girl with cancer.

And nearly 12 years later, I’m still that girl. Well, now that I’m 34, I’m probably a woman - with cancer. And I still remember that day so vividly. The walk home from the doctors across George the Vth Bridge in Edinburgh.  How cold it was but a bright sunny day. Speaking to my father to let him know I had been to the doctors that morning and had a blood test as I hadn't been feeling quite right. And then putting it out of my head as I didn't think anything much of it.

There is no end of treatment date for me. No 5 years clear and off you go. I’m currently on 4 weekly check-ups and haven’t had a check-up less frequently than that in years. But that’s ok. I’d rather this and all the treatment changes and regular appointments than 3 or 6 monthly check-ups on drugs that are making me miserable and severely restricting my quality of life.

I finally feel like me

Right now, however, I’m not that bothered that my 12th cancerversary is in 3 weeks. And this is the first time this has ever happened! Yes. I will still do something with friends. I’m not going to let it pass without acknowledging it. But this is the first year, other than the 1st one because I was a student with nothing much to do other than get out of bed, that I feel good. Like me. Like it’s not a massive thing. Because my treatment isn’t holding me back. I don’t need to focus on all the good that has come of my diagnosis. Because I feel good. Which is weird. I definitely don’t associate myself with feeling like this and being on treatment.

I also don’t need to make an effort to see people in the same way on my cancerversary as I am now able to see friends when I want to. Even after a days work! This is a first for me. Which is probably why I’m not as bothered as usual about it.

I might feel different over the coming days and things trickle through my memory of how I felt in those weeks leading up to my diagnosis. How my life was about to change forever. But today, I will just focus on enjoying being me. And hoping that this continues for many more cancerversary to come.

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