The other day I looked at my dayscounter. It's and app I have on my phone that countdowns days (or counts up days) to important events in my life. My favorite category is "Missionary". It tells me how many days a missionary has been out and how many days until he comes home (give or take a few). I really like that category. (BTW--it's about 550 days until Matt comes home). I also like the "Running" category as it tells me who many days until my next race. Unfortunately I don't have a race in the near future; it's 319 days until Ragnar 2017, if you care to know.
But there is one category I really don't like to look at: "Cancer". You see it reminds me of all sorts of bad memories. There are very few good memories associated with the word "cancer." I just lived through one of the hardest months associated with the word cancer.
Back in 2009, I went in search for what was causing my back to ache. The search began in earnest in late June and by mid August a "mass" was discovered. I went in for a biopsy and then waited a very long time--OK, it was only five days, but that seemed like an eternity.
So I'm not sure what exact date on the calendar you can call my "diagnosis" official, but it was the last week of August. I had the biopsy surgery on a Friday, went to a family reunion and then got home on Wednesday and there was a message on the phone that I had cancer. So was it that Wednesday (on the phone) or the Thursday when I sat in Dr. Kraemer's office and he said the words, "You have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma"? I don't know and I don't think one day matters. But for me I put down Thursday, August 27, 2009, as my death date. The date that I was told I was going to die. Ok, Dr. Kraemer didn't exactly say those words, but this is what I heard...word for dreadful word...
Dr. K: "The blah, blah, blah, blah came back and it says you have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. Blah, blah, blah, radiation, blah, blah, blah, chemotherapy, blah, blah, blah, treatment, blah, blah, blah, keep you alive until there is a cure. Blah, blah, blah, blah, ...."
Me: "So I'm going to die?"
Dr. K: "YES!!!" (in reality he said, no, but I heard yes shoulted from the top of the Space Needle.)
When August comes around each year I have to grit my teeth and hope that I don't let a wave of negativity flow over me. It get's pretty hard when you think of all the awfulness that August as brought into my life (I buried my sister and my mom in August and diagnosed with cancer--pretty awful month). But I also have to think of the wonderful things August has brought into my life.
Here's a short list:
Baby boy #4
Baby girl #1 (Baby #6)
Annual camping trips--always fun
Fall approaching (I love early fall!)
Soccer season (my favorite sport)
Remission (August 5th--my new birthday!)
So it been 2559 since that day I sat in Dr. Kraemer's office and he told me I was going to die. Pretty good that I've lived for an extra 2559 days. I hope I have many, many more days.
And since we are throwing out numbers:
2216 days since "remission" was said.
390 days since 5 year remission (BENCHMARK #1)
1437 Day until 10 years in remission! (BENCHMARK #2)
PS: Yes, I do cry in every August 27th. I usually do it in the shower. Quietly and alone. I mourn for the person I was, yet celebrate the person I've become.