Diagnosis Days

As I type this I am thinking that very soon it will have been three years since my cancer diagnosis and I realize I am not sure how to feel about that.

October 18th, 2018 is the day I had my first colonoscopy and the day the doctor found the tumor in my sigmoid colon. It took a week for the biopsy to come back but we knew it was cancer, the biopsy just made it official.

At the time of my diagnosis I was scared and overwhelmed. Those feelings continued through my chemo and multiple surgeries over the next 16 months. I sit and think back and I wonder and I marvel at how I was able to get through it all.

And yet, I did. It’s been nearly 17 months since my last reversal surgery and while I still see my oncologist quarterly and still undergo frequent CT scans, my treatment is essentially behind me.

This year as I approach the date of my diagnosis, I feel differently than I did last year. The shock has passed, the treatments ended and I start to wonder how I will commemorate the day this year.

I bet if you had asked me three years ago how I would feel about this I would say that I’d just like to forget it all. By ignoring the day I would save myself from thinking about all that happened during the treatment process.

Now though, I honestly think it is a day worth not just commemorating, but celebrating. They say you become a survivor the day you are diagnosed. Without the diagnosis, I wouldn’t have had my surgery and I wouldn’t have had the treatments, both of which I believe saved my life. My tumor was stage II but had attached itself to my colon wall, it very shortly could have spread to my lymph nodes or liver.

So this year on my diagnosis day I will celebrate good health and remember that I was able to endure all the challenges that came my way during my treatments. I was able to find strength that I didn’t know I had and I should be proud of that.

Obviously my feelings would be very different if I wasn’t looking at my treatments through a lens of success. Not that I will ever put the experience behind me, but it’s a lot easier to feel comfortable with this mindset than if my treatments were still ongoing or if I was still currently facing medical challenges. My heart goes out to all of you who may still be struggling.

I also understand that not everyone will feel the same way that I do, that there is no right or wrong way to feel about this.

I am curious as to how others handle this situation, how you feel about your diagnosis day and other notable days during your treatment. How do you commemorate these days?

Scott Blitstein @scoblitz