Monthly Archives: August 2011

Five Years Clear!

I admit it. I’ve been remiss. (First, because this was written weeks ago, and I forgot to post it…) I almost let the most important recovery milestone pass without fuss – not only in “real life”, but on here, too. Considering that Killerboob’s raison d’etre, that would be a particular injustice. So let me fix that:

June 28th marked five years all clear of cancer. (Holla!)

There are varying opinions on what exactly this means, why precisely it is a big deal. There is even uncertainty as to how exactly one counts this.  My original oncologist, the amazing Doctor Professor Neven, said that the 5 year mark is when my risk factor drops back to that of someone who’s never had it, and that I was considered “clear” just after my mastectomy, since there was no cancer in my lymph nodes and they had, after all, just cut the damn stuff out. Technically it was all gone.

So. There you have it. Five years to the day, no cancer found. I had blood tests and a bone scan in May (for unexplained neck pain), so I can feel pretty good that my last clearance was thorough. And that’s saying something since I have been rather uncertain about the NHS (National Health Service) since moving to the UK last year. But that’s for another post.

The strangest thing is how I let this anniversary float by, like barely noticed driftwood. For those of you who know me well, that is not much of a surprise. I don’t like to make a fuss. Not for myself anyway. Throwing a party for anyone is incredibly angsty for me; I certainly would not dream of doing it for myself.

But I wanted to make an exception for this anniversary. It wouldn’t be celebrating “me”, after all, but the death of an awful thing. You know: Ding Dong, the witch is (by some official measures) dead!!

That deserves something really special. It didn’t have to be a party per se. It could have been anything giddiness-inducing. But what? A hot air balloon ride. An extra-splurgy vacation. Some Botox? A pedicure? Good lord, something!

Doing nothing felt like saying it wasn’t special. Or that I wasn’t grateful. Or that I don’t remember the number of friends who were not lucky enough to make it to the same landmark….

So I upset myself a little when exactly that happened. For six months I watched it coming. For six months I said I was going to do something. At least have a champagne toast, for goodness sake!

When the 28th rolled around, the whole family – including best friends and in-laws – were in Ireland, in a castle, all together and everything. That’s already special – all I had to do was claim that this event could double as an honor of the anniversary. But I’d gotten distracted in the 2 months prior, planning for that vacation. The 28th came, and the 28th went. And no one said a word.

On the 29th I remembered. And everyone said, “Oh. Huh. Five years. How about that?” And then we talked about something else.

I feel weird about this. Perhaps my sister is right, that forgetting is the best gift of all. Forgetting means I’ve healed in a lot of ways. Forgetting means we have already moved on, that we’ve not let it scar us. Forgetting says, “Take that, cancer. We don’t even care about you anymore.” But I just don’t know: is that a wise thing to say? Is that sort of like cash-baiting a mobster?

So part of me remains unsatisfied, and I struggle to put my finger on why. Perhaps I am just being superstitious. But whatever the reason, I’m not letting it go by here. So, not for the first, but hopefully for the last time, I’ll say it properly:

Ding dong the witch is dead!*

*Ahem. By some official measures 😉

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