Souvenirs and a celebration

It’s been a year, one whole year since my last chemotherapy treatment. Since any treatment for endometrial cancer. A year since my goal was to make it through the day a step at a time. One year of No Cancer!

This first anniversary weaves itself in and out of my days. I remember what a struggle it was to do anything, from getting out of bed, to doing my job, to knitting. I smile when I think about all the love and care that came from my family and friends, and of all those people I don’t know in real life, too, like some of you. I can still taste saline and heparin and taxol if I think about it. 

I can’t help but stop and think about what I was doing, where I was, how I felt at this moment, or on that day a year ago, or a year and a half. And I think about it this way: I’m proud of myself. I worked hard. I tried to be honest. I hope I became wiser. I wanted to find myself here right now, recovering and happy, and I did.

There are remnants and reminders of the journey — souvenirs, as a dear friend put it. A little blurred vision, still tender lungs, a slightly less efficient heart, swelling in my legs, numbness in my toes. Souvenirs, including the one inch scar where my port was, which reminds me every day that I set my whole body and mind on reaching the land of No Cancer. I accept them, because I arrived.


But now it’s time to celebrate! On Thursday I shared the evening with some of the women who spent so many hours with me while I had chemo. I loved seeing all of them together, around a table piled with delicious food. We toasted me, we toasted Dr. Pearl. If you know me you’ll think I spent the evening in tears, but I didn’t. We laughed and I smiled, and it was the best way to celebrate the year!

I want to make my anniversary last, so I have an idea. We all have anniversaries — days or moments we remember, that we look to to help us mark time. Leave a comment, and tell me about an anniversary that you celebrate, big or small. I want to know what makes it special and memorable. 
For every comment on this post between now and my birthday on April 28th, I’ll make a donation to the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation. It’s a wonderful organization that supports research and promotes public awareness of gynecologic cancers, and it’s been invaluable to me since my diagnosis. Its Women’s Cancer Network was the first website I visited that helped me make sense of what was happening to me. With your help, I want to do more for them.

There’s more, because I want to spread my happiness around a little. At the end of the month I’ll do the random number thing and somebody will win a prize! If the winner is a knitter, there will be yarn. If not, there will be a book.

So what do you say — want to play along? I hope so!

105 thoughts on “Souvenirs and a celebration

  1. Congratulations, Jane. To pilfer the title of an old book I own, you truly "Brighten the Corner Where You Are"…and your journey has illuminated a shadowy path for many with insight, wisdom and grace. I am grateful to see you shining brightly. Many blessings.

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  2. Well, I've never suffered from anything such as cancer or known anyone to have and I'm still quite young. So my anniversary would probably have to be NYDS (National Youth Drama School over here in NZ). It's been the best week of the year for the past three years and every year I get to celebrate the year by going back. 🙂 The students and the tutors all mean so much to me and teach me so much. So it may not be like celebrating coming over a major pitfall, just celebrating something truely wonderful.

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  3. I don't have many anniversary events that i celebrate aside from the typical ones (and I don't really do much for those because I am not much of an anniversary person), and the one i do hold dear in my heart seems like an odd one… It is Valentine's Day, the anniversary of my final court hearing for my divorce from my first husband (yes, it was actually scheduled for VALENTINE'S DAY).I celebrate because if he hadn't left I'd still be trapped, still be slowly killing off every remaining piece of myself bit by bit trying to make him happy. I have scars, and baggage, but without that whole soul crushing experience I never would have become the person I am today and I wouldn't have found the life I have now… with a husband who respects me and a child who adores me and the important things in life I never thought I would ever have with my ex (*cough*my horses and such*cough*).

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  4. Congratulations, Jane! Looking forward to celebrating many more cancer-free years with you! On the 15th of each month, I say a prayer of thanks for the miracle of open-heart surgery and the surgeon and team that gave my husband more time to enjoy life.

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  5. I've been reading your blog for several months. I keep reading not only because of your inspirational story, but because your spirit comes through in everything you write. Congrats on your anniversary!

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. My sister-in-law is a cervical cancer survivor. You both have been so inspirational to me.I'm always eager to see what you're knitting. I'm a fairly new knitter and your pieces are beautiful.I'm planning some special anniversaries: My in-laws 60th (!) on May 13 and our 29th on May 23rd.Again, congratulations on your special anniversary.

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  7. I'm celebrating the moment that I learned word of acceptance into the MFA program here at Stony Brook Southampton. This time last April, I had received rejection notices from nearly all the graduate programs I had applied to. Come to think of it, I never got officially word from Penn State. (Bastids.) It got to the point where I could envision myself wearing an awful black hat with a big MC on it, and the warped voice in my ears would repeat, "Would you like fries with that, sir?" I thought about smelling like McFlurries and animal fat all day, and I cried. Then, finally, a very sparse email from the Assistant Director of the MFA program stated that they were extending an offer of admittance to me. I laughed, I cried, I drank things. It was great. And you know, despite all the turmoil and upheaval in parts of my life right now, moving to New York was the best decision I've ever made for myself. And I think that's because it was wholly my decision. If I had listened to my parents or some of the members in my family, I'd probably be living in my "apartment" on the 2nd floor of my parents' house, like some creepy hunchback or a character from a V.C. Andrews' novel. And I knew that I wanted much more for myself. I was capable of much more. And look at what I've accomplished! I've made a little family on Long Island, surrounded myself with people who genuinely care about my well-being, including you, Jane. You always ask about my shoes and my lack of a good winter coat. Where else could I get that? And honestly, it took me a while to get comfortable here. Come last October, I considered leaving and going back to Texas where the speed limits are 75 and traffic cops don't give out tickets that equivocate to your liver on the black market. But, I didn't. I stuck it out. I wrote some of my best work. And though, my future is semi-up in the air right now, every passing day puts a bounce in my step. Despite it all, it's still Spring. Old becomes new again. I'm listening to jazz and reading sappy quotes to keep myself upbeat. I'm turning my heart, my muscle, into a fist. I tell myself to "keep loving, keep fighting"…

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  8. Jane, I just want to say, I am so happy for you. I've been tuning into your blog for about the past year. There are too many stories of loved ones lost to cancer; it's so, so good to hear of strong, thriving survivors. Congratulations to you.

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  9. I cannot wait to celebrate each of my Mom's healthy anniversaries with her–end of chemo, end of radiation, end of cancer . . .This year, I had to find a way to celebrate my dear friend Mike, who we lost far too young. I did manage to cheer up and celebrate how much time with him I did have, and how important reading was to him. We'll keep buying books in his name for libraries, and we'll keep inching towards celebrating rather than mourning him.

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  10. Your anniversary makes me smile…it's been 26 years of healthy anniversaries with my daughter…and two and a half months of heart healthy anniversaries with my DH. I love happy anniversaries, don't you?

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  11. March 7, 2009 was the day my stepchildren came to live with their father and me. It's been filled with highs and lows (some lows contributed to one head-strong, willful, beautiful teenage stepdaughter) but we all seem to be hitting our stride. My stepson and stepdaughter are content, living life, and happy in their surroundings. My husband and I started dating when they were young, 4.5 and 3. Almost 11 years later, they know me and I know them. I enjoy spending time with them, hearing about their days, and watching them grow into young adults. Though, a part of me still longs for the moments of solitude and quiet that relaxing and allow me to gather my energies.

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  12. I just saw your latest post about making comments here to support research on gyno. cancers. I lost my mother to cervical cancer when I was 38. Here I am, celebrating my 50th birthday and celebrating the women who live to tell tales of survival!

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  13. Congratulations on your milestone. It is nearly four years since I had my hip resurfaced due to osteoarthritis. The relief at being pain free, and able to stand up straight again is indescribable.Jacqueline

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  14. To Jane and everyone who have told the story of a special anniversary– especially the cancer survivors. You are all so inspiring to me– reminding me that I need to take and enjoy day as it comes. Congratulations, Jane, on your wonderful anniversary of health! Elizabeth

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  15. The yarns in your April 21st post are lovely but it was the book about the Hamptons that caught my attention. I've always wanted to visit. It looks so beautiful.Wishing you an early Happy Birthday.

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  16. 1 year of health!wishing you many more!the anniversary i celebrate is to the one i love. we're not married, just in love <3and we're lame ha ha ha.happy anniversaries everybody!xoxox

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  17. Congrats to you!! There are so many anniversary dates, birth of daughter, marriage,a serious injury now healed even deaths of loved ones. My mom of course does my birthday, i for her remind her every year on the anniversary of woodstock, as that is where i was created.

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  18. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! 🙂 (visiting from Margene's blog)Our biggest celebrations here are our kids' birthdays. We try to make them as special as possible for the kids…and I spend the day remembering what their birth day was like for me.

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  19. Jane – So nice to find your blog. 🙂 Congratulations on your One Year mark. I'm so happy for you. As for my anniversary? It's been exactly one year and two months since my final chemo treatment (non-Hodgkins lymphoma). A year feels good, doesn't it? Here's to many more — for both of us!

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  20. Hi, Margene sent me and I'm glad she did. So lucky to read your story and know you are well. Just the normal anniversaries, but my kids' birthdays seem to get more special each year, maybe because I'm in denial of mine 🙂 Be well and big hugs!

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  21. Hi, Jane! I just found out about your wonderful blog from Margene and, contest or no, wanted to say congratulations on slaying that frickin-frackin cancer dragon. I'm looking forward to reading your blog and am sending energy for good health and happiness.

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  22. I've followed your posts – and lost a friend to cancer – during the last year. Strength and prayers are flowing your way for a continued journey through the land of the unknown. We are all just a heartbeat away from you.

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  23. Happy Birthday and congratulations!! Would that all those we love were so lucky, right? The thing I celebrate, but I don't know the date, is that my brother is alive. He is 18+ years sober and decided to walk into an AA meeting instead of killing himself. I just heard a speech he gave, and it's up for the annual convention, painful, funny, honest, ultimately empowering. He said he's losing the house he loves, is HIV positive, may never work again, but life is good. Life IS good!

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  24. Congratulations on your anniversaary. I celebrate July 14, the date that my oldest son survived a horrible car accident. It opened our eyes to his bipolar disorder and started him on the road to self-help by allowing us to help him also.

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  25. Huge congrats! My son is an 11-year survivor of brain cancer, and it's been a long and weary road. I salute you (knitting needles held high) and send healthy, happy thoughts.

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  26. Congratulations to you for a wonderful anniversary to celebrate. This month marks a whole year since my father began an intensive chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease. He's had non-Hodgkin's since 2000, but last year things ratcheted up and the first week of chemo was brutal. He is now mostly cancer-free (they can never get it all, but I hear the PET scan looks great). I am so glad you have so many wonderful friends to celebrate with — keep on celebrating!

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  27. All the births of my 5 children are deeply & joyfully memorable but lessons learned more deeply come from the dates that 2 of my sons passed–one on the same day of his birth and one at the age of 21. I remember on the day of my second son's passing that I have never felt more grounded and yet at the same time…groundless. Loosing them has given me a completely different view of life and how precious each day and even each breath is!may you have many, many days to spend in joy with all those who love you!!!

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  28. I have certainly been touched by cancer more than seems reasonable – my husband, my mother, my niece….. But actually, I don't want to talk about that, I want to celebrate your one year mark! You are just awesome!! I came across your blog during my year living in France, and was inspired both by you, and by your creative talents. All the best.

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  29. i thought of you this morning–the science times (NYTimes) has a feature section on cancer survivors. but we are all survivors of something. and we all need to celebrate each day as if it is our last. (and plan at the same time to live forever!)i have 2 birthday–one is my natal day (when i was actually born) the second is from when i decided to live.. and live i do, every day.

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  30. My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2008, shortly after I discovered your blog. He will be celebrating his last chemo treatment in early May. Congratulations to both of you! Your writing and your knitting have been a source of comfort to me during this time. Happy Birthday and thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring posts.

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  31. Happy Birthday :)That simple sentiment holds so much more meaning after the Big C.My sister was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had a hysterectomy. That was 24 years ago. Today she is stronger and healthier than I am.I try to celebrate the tiniest of joys in life, because waiting for the big events can be disappointing. So when I manage to find an empty checkout line at the grocery store, or I learn a new paint or embroidery technique, I quietly celebrate that moment.hugs,Heidiheidig@gmail.com

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