Celebration or not …

Yesterday marked three years since the radiologist said the words “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer”. It is hard to believe that was three years ago.

I had a doctors appointment yesterday. At one point I broke down in tears, completely unrelated to the appointment. The doctor asked me what was up. I explained that it was the day – three years since diagnosis –  not anything about the appointment. She told me that I should celebrate. That I should find some way, even if it is just a small way (like throwing a rock into a stream). She talked about the importance of acknowledging being alive.

I am struck by this. I don’t know what to think about it but the words keep running through my head.

I did do one thing yesterday that was a bit of a marker of the day. Since I was already up at Stanford, I walked over to my tree – the tree where I took my picture before every infusion and doctors appointment throughout treatment. It has been months since I last saw the tree (might even be a year). I don’t see my doctors up at the main campus that often – mostly I see them at South Bay which is about the same distance but so much easier because I don’t need to spend 15 minutes walking from the parking garage to the clinic – and the parking is free. I’m also having fewer doctors appointments. I’m reducing the frequency of my visits. That too is forward moving progress.

I took this picture – perhaps that is my celebration – or perhaps this blog post is:


I have hair now. I get lots of comments from my doctors on its length. It is much longer than it was before cancer. What you don’t see is that I don’t really have eyebrows. They didn’t really grow back – at least not enough to be functional (they don’t keep the sweat out of my eyes), and not enough to frame my face when I’m not wearing glasses. Anyways, that is a minor annoyance. I am learning to live with, and be happy with, my new body.

And the words “you should celebrate being alive” keep ringing through my head. I cannot help but wonder if that celebration is more for the doctor – their achievements in keeping me alive – then it is a celebration for me. I tried to explain that no, today is not the day that I celebrate. But I couldn’t get it out to really explain. The ‘celebration’ or ritual is much more around December 17 – the day the last bits of known breast cancer were removed from my body. That day is significantly more important than the day that I heard the words that haunt me “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer”.

Do you ‘celebrate’ or acknowledge that day you were diagnosed? What is your ritual?

  • Becky


  • Congratulations!

  • Hi Becky,
    Personally, I don’t appreciate it when someone suggests I should celebrate anything cancer related. Just sort of irks me. (And no, this doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful). I think your point about maybe that celebrating is more for the doctor is telling. For me, it’s been seven years. Still feels surreal at times. Anyway…love your tree. Love your hair. And btw, my eyebrows didn’t grow back either. Or my eyelashes. To answer your question, I remember a lot of cancer dates, but celebrate any of them, no. I don’t do that.

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