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Marking Milestones and Anniversaries

Posted 4/20/2016

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  One very big milestone in our lives is one that is never marked. That is the moment that you realize that last week or last month was the Xth anniversary of your cancer diagnosis, and the day passed without your remembering it. It usually takes a lot of years to get to this, and, during that time, many of us are haunted by certain dates.

  Some people can easily recall the dates of diagnosis and surgery and beginning and chemotherapy ad finishing radiation. Others remember one day, and some have trouble identifying any. Sometimes we create our own milestones that are different from anniversaries. Do you count how many Thanksgivings or birthdays you have had since cancer?

  A parallel issue is future important events. It is so helpful  to have goals and days to anticipate. For me having been first diagnosed as a single mother with a young daughter, I held on to an image of her wedding. In my mind, I filled out the details (except for the groom, of course!) and yearned to be alive and healthy when the day came. Almost twenty years after that diagnosis, the day came. On my desk, I have a picture of the two us hand in hand, starting the walk down the aisle. It reminds me daily that dreams can come true.

There surely is no right or wrong here, but it can be helpful to mark the days of importance.

  This is a very good essay from Cancer Net about this:

6 Tips for Recognizing Milestones in a Life With Cancer
  Greg Guthrie, ASCO staff

Milestones go hand in hand with cancer. What are milestones? They are the signposts along
the side of the road that show how far you’ve gone in your cancer journey. Milestones can be
the date of your cancer diagnosis, the end of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, the
anniversary of surgery to treat your cancer, each follow-up visit, or monthly or annual
anniversaries of having no signs or symptoms of cancer. They can be all of these and they can
be none.
A lot of cancer survivors have mixed emotions about milestones and anniversaries of
important dates. Milestones can trigger a range of emotions, from gratitude and relief to pain
and sadness to fear of cancer recurrence, even after years have passed. One of the best ways
to recognize milestones and the emotions they evoke is to take ownership of them. Choose
how you want to reflect on the changes in your life, both difficult and positive. You may want to
celebrate your hard work and the fact that you are a cancer survivor. Or you may need extra
support from friends, family, or a health professional. Preparing yourself for anniversary dates
and honoring them in ways that are meaningful to you may help you sort through complex emotions and reflect on your
Just remember to talk to your family and friends before your milestones arrive. They’ve experienced your cancer diagnosis and treatment in a different way, so they may have different thoughts about how to honor these anniversaries. Talk with them about your needs and your perspective before milestones arrive.

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