Happy Cancer Anniversary to Me

Cake, Candles and Confetti anyone?

It was a grey Tuesday morning. It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t warm. It was one of those autumn days where it keeps drizzling down but taking your umbrella out feels like overkill.

I was wearing lovely new fitted black chinos, a purple top, and a ring on my right ring finger. I had just dyed my hair dark brown and let it dry in its natural curly style.

I had basic make-up on. Hastily filled in brows and mascara. A touch of concealer.

I was ready to jump on a train straight from the hospital, and walk into work. Carry on with my day.

The Fifteenth of October.

Will I ever forget this date, like people forget their wedding anniversary? Will I ever have to hesitate when I think about when it all started?

I have fragmented memories of the day itself. There are details that play in my mind pretty much every day. Scenes that got photographed and stuck in my memory, ready to play whenever something presses the wrong button. My personal heavily-edited reality show. Keeping Up With The Womb Cancer.

I have been thinking about what I should do on this day.

Last year, I asked the two friends I have been the closest to during my whole journey to come and have dinner with me. I felt like I couldn’t be left on my own for the day. I was scared of myself.

It felt odd. I cried a lot. It felt good.

This year, I feel calmer. I don’t know how the day is going to go. I am unpredictable. But I feel more settled. I have done this before.

Should I treat today as a normal day to try to remove some of the power I have unconsciously given it?

Should I reclaim that day? Make it a joyful occasion?

Two years after a cancer diagnosis, I am still here. I am back on my feet, I am almost able to see, in the distance, a future where I have overcome my trauma and kicked this cancer’s butt.

Should I go out, toast to a happy and healthy life? Should I host a huge celebration of life party?

Maybe not this year, but one day. I checked, you can get uterus-shaped confetti on Etsy.

If I Could Turn Back Time*

It will have been two years this Friday since my diagnosis. Two years.  That is both an eternity and no time at all.

My cancer diagnosis changed my perception of so many things, so many aspects of life I had always taken for granted – but none as much as time.

I needed more time between my diagnosis and treatment – time to think, time to understand, time to process, time to get ready.

I needed time to stop.

I was angry at how much time I had. Scared that even a day would make a difference in how much the cancer progressed.

I wanted time to speed up. Every week that passed was excruciating. I wanted it to be over, to erase those months from the calendar.

So much waiting.

At home, in waiting rooms, at the train station, all through the night when sleep would not come. All day long, when all I wished for was the chance to go back to bed.

I wanted more time, more time with my friends, with my family. More years to explore travel the world, to find outwhat I wanted from life, to build a future.

I wanted the extra years treatment could buy me. I wanted to savor every second, and make the most of each day.

Where have those two years gone?

They have passed in the blink of an eye. In the midst of a pandemic – two years gone, lost, wasted. Two years. It feels surreal.

It feels like yesterday.

I need more time. I need more seconds, more minutes, more hours.

I need more time every day, to feel rested, to feel like I have control over my life. I need more time than the twenty minutes between my yoga session and the start of my working day.

I need more time to mourn, breathe, feel safe again. I need more time than the day I call in sick after my hospital appointment. A day makes no difference in the long term.

I need more time to be comfortable with who I am and what my life has become. I need more than the six months until my next and potentially last check-up. I need to time to believe this is it.

When I look at the last two years, I realise that even though time has stood still, I have done the opposite. I have been running in circles around what little life I had, scared to stop, unable to take a break for fear of falling down.

I need to stop – stop working, stop making, stop overthinking, stop worrying. I need more time to find myself again.

I have been too busy too pretending to live to focus on my survivorship. Going to work, zoom calls, pub quizzes, speed dating, binge-watching, crafting, trying to fill every moment.

I need to make more time. Time to do nothing but feel, exist, rebuild. I need to take a break and think.

I have been crumbling because of the hastiness of my recovery. I was so focused on getting back to life, mimicking my old routine, I did not take the time I needed to put myself back together.

They say time heals.

Maybe time heals if you have strong, healthy foundations, but in my experience, time only deepens the wounds that were left untreated.

I don’t need time to stop anymore.

I just need a reset. A break from the hurried pace of life. An opportunity to watch the hands go back on the clock, feel every feeling, understand the journey, play it back, slowly, steadily.

I need to take my time.

*I know the title doesn’t exactly fit, but who am I to say no to Cher