Because I live very much in the present, I don’t do well with anniversaries, birthdays, or any other memorials. My brother died, I think, 11 or 12 years ago–was it the beginning of February or March? I couldn’t tell you the day. When I got married, I was annoyed that it wasn’t Flag Day because I knew I’d forget. And I forgot; not always, but enough to be humiliating. I think my step dad died four or five years ago in September. And what year did I graduate from grad school? Some folks are really dedicated about marking milestones. Me, not so much. So imagine my puzzlement when I came across the term “cancerversary.”
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and discussion boards and I keep coming across this word. I haven’t recorded any statistics, but the vast majority of instances where it is mentioned is not so much to mark recovery, but to remind one of the day they were diagnosed with cancer.
How can I forget the day I was diagnosed? July 19, 2012. Indeed, I wish I could forget it. But I can tell you I have already forgotten the day I got my upgrade to Stage IV. Aside from medical history reasons, I do not want to remember the day I was diagnosed with cancer. Because when that day rolls around next year I want to enjoy it for what it has to offer and not take a trip down memory lane. I’ve seen many posts that do just that; I can’t imagine why such a horrific day would want to be relived year after year. Move forward, for fuck’s sake.
And if you’ve completed treatment or are marking progress, why the hell do you want to mashup the word cancer with everything? Honestly, in my opinion it’s just as ridiculous as sporting a tattoo on your body to remind you of the cancer you had in your body. But just in case you do want to carry a reminder, there’s jewelry and more stuff you can buy. Yes, some capitalists have already cornered another way to suck some more life out of the breast cancer market.
One place counts its “Cancerversary Collection” among its wares. Buy a tree of life necklace, a lotus flower charm, or a new watch (with genuine silicone wrist band). Another place offers calendar charms and rings with your special day marked with a Swarovski piece of glass . . . er . . . crystal. One site suggests you buy a second calendar charm to give to mom.
You think I’m sarcastic? You should meet my mom. I can easily imagine her opening the box with anticipation, asking “What’s this?” with a frowned brow, and then asking me why I didn’t buy her some bath towels instead. Yep. I’m going to spend $60 on a charm so my mom can remember the day her youngest child was diagnosed with freaking breast cancer. “Hey mom, I know you loved that cancerversary charm so much that I got you this new charm with the Stage IV diagnosis date. And the crystal matches your birthstone!”
My mother would go to court to sever any parental rights or association with me.
This pink ribbon culture has gotten to the point that we almost, in some twisted, odd, subconscious–or perhaps very conscious–way, celebrate this fucking disease. We bask in the glory of our status as warriors and announce when the battle has begun. Because we have vanquished the invader, we are granted the title Imperator for the day and enjoy feasts and dancing. And then, when our name is carved in stone for all to admire, we return to the stone year after year to celebrate our victory. I belong to a special club and can wear ribbons, and pink, and jewelry.
I am Stage IV. An uneasy truce. Honestly, I’m not going to get my turn at a decisive victory at Zama. So if going into battle is the only real date that I would potentially “celebrate” you can have it. This is not a date to mark, it’s not date to celebrate, it’s just another day. A day like any other, except me and millions of other women around the world found out that we had breast cancer.
I’d rather remember the day before.