Ronda Walker Weaver, a valued LBBC blog contributor explains the emotions, thoughts and realizations she encountered while facing the anniversaries of her diagnosis, treatment, and other hurdles during her journey with breast cancer...
September 2013 began my year of firsts - anniversaries that is. And I haven't known quite what to do with them. I think the day I found my tumor, the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the day I began chemotherapy, the day I shaved my head, the day I began radiation, the day I finished all treatments, should all be acknowledged, but I'm not sure if the "celebrating" them is what I want to do!
It's not like I'm celebrating my wedding anniversary, the birthdays of my children, or even Christmas. And I'm not really mourning the loss of a loved one, my divorce, or my move from one part of the USA to another.
This past week has been filled with the beginnings of those anniversaries. My port inserted. My first chemotherapy round, my horrible terrible illness associated with this, and the beginnings of aches and unknowns associated with my body and said treatments. I decided I'd acknowledge the day of my first treatment, with a tip of my hat, a prayer of thanksgiving, and a blog post, and then I'd move on with my week. But, something else was in store.
Anticipatory grief is a reaction often associated with an impending anniversary surrounding a loss or death, or a deep mourning that happens prior to a death or departure. And this is what surprised me. I have grieved the loss of me (see my last LBBC blog post), but I had built up so much energy around this chemo date, that when this week arrived, I was in such an emotional mess I canceled a breast cancer support group evening, chose not to attend my yoga class, and spent three days walking under a cloud of sorrow. One evening I decided to take a walk to try and get out of my funk (it was that or chocolate), and I ended up at my son's home, where I cried and cried, and cussed, and laughed, and worked through the anxiety that had taken over my mind and body. And then I spent two days with my children and grandchildren, and there wasn't a moment to even think about last year! Living in the present is the best gift I can give myself.
I feel better this week. And I believe the anniversaries to come will be a little less stressful. I realized that acknowledging is half the journey, but just like a stormy day doesn't have to ruin my plans, an anniversary doesn't have to ruin my day. Life does go on, and living is a great anniversary gift!
My questions to you are - What cancer and treatments days do you celebrate? Mourn? Remember? Acknowledge? And how?
Ronda is 54 years old. She was diagnosed with breast cancer on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. She went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. She teaches folklore and writing at Utah Valley University and works for an online education company, LearningU. She is using her recovery time to read, listen to music, garden, walk, play with her grandchildren, children, and enjoy her dear husband – who has been her pillar of strength through her journey. She also writes her own blog called Folklady’s Adventures.