“A new year has begun.” I say to our two fat cats sprawled on the couch, close to me, protecting or seeking protection. I am never sure which. Why I did not want these cats, or any cats for that matter gives me pause.
The holiday season a blur, and snow piling outside, the furnace pumps to keep the deep freeze at bay. My mind is busy, remembering darker times. I am not sure what I thought would happen when I got to this moment. Images of pink balloons and roses, and savory smells, the pop of a champagne cork followed by a devilish squeal, and the contentment of an endless amount of love.
It’s impossible to forget the day it began, like a slap across the face. June 6, 2013. That date is clear. But when did the cancer-free clock begin? Would it be the removal of my tumors? Or the last round of chemo –the final infusion, or the three-weeks of healing that followed? How does one determine the exact calendar day to circle in red flagging “Day one”?
All those people, that swooped in with the diagnosis, friends, family, strangers, that baked and cooked and sent flowers, that showed up, worried and loved from close and afar. The urgency to the schedule, to the surgery to the pathology, to the treatment, to each round, to each pill, to hair loss and eventual growth, to the ebb and flow of being one with cancer. Clear dates defined, everyone in the know. I was supported and it kept me moving forward despite melancholy and fear.
The end of 2018 was the fifth year of me being cancer free, and it arrived unannounced and has slipped away. Well, there was one hashtag, and a solitary tweet – two public declarations to the passing of a medical milestone, a statistical win. Five years in the past and health ahead. So, no bubbly, no parties thrown, no sentimental cards with words like journey, or strength or conquer. The month of December flew by like any other, frenetic and filled with family food and the two fluffy cats.
Determined and curious, I wonder what the next twenty-five years will be like? I see me beating more medical statistics…. ‘25’ eye on the prize. So, what date in December 2031 should I circle in red?