5, in cancer years, is a pretty big deal. I’d say any amount of time is a really big deal when you have cancer, but for us, we’re at the 5-year mark of the day that forever changed our lives. I’m not exactly sure which day we are supposed to officially observe as the anniversary mark, but this date is the very first one that comes to mind every single year since it all began.
I’d love to fill your head full of bullshit and say there was a parade held in Caelan’s honor this morning, followed by many gifts showered upon her, a boisterous and joyous feast, and last but not least, fireworks on display for all to see this evening, but obviously, this isn’t the case. Too bad though because that would’ve been totally awesome! Today is a pretty big deal and I’d totally go for a parade and fireworks but really, I’m finding today to be more of a reminder of the life we lost (I’m not saying that I’m not thankful that my daughter survived, I’m just thinking about what would’ve happened if cancer hadn’t happened kind of thing). I could go for some ice cream, I really do love ice cream.
This is the day that the ghosts of my previous life come to haunt me. The incoming transmission of pssst…hey, remember me? I was the life you lived before cancer, yeah…the one where you slept soundly at night believing that everything and everyone would be fine and the biggest stresses you faced daily was what to put in your kids’ lunches and balancing a busy Mom calendar…until this very fateful day. Hey, how’s life treating you these days, too bad we had to part ways.
My previous life
Yeah, kind of makes me want to say fuck you life, but in many ways, that’s far from the truth. I am thankful and I am grateful that my daughter is happy, healthy, and very much alive. I know that there are many others who would do absolutely anything to be in my shoes so please don’t take my acknowledgment of these feelings the wrong way. I’m just being honest with how I’ve been feeling.
Looking back, the times have changed, yes indeedy. That sense of security (which was false) is completely gone and the nakedness I feel that has exposed me to the cold, harsh realities are what I am left to bear. Life has certainly made an example of me, and there’s just no going back now.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe that this day is finally here. At one time, it seemed so distant and far away that even considering that we’d eventually arrive here at some point, was unfathomable…but here we are. Some way, somehow we’ve made it. Unreal.
The day it all started
5 years ago today, Caelan pointed out the mysterious and ominous-looking lump she discovered that took up residence within the vicinity of her collarbone. I’ll never forget the moment she showed us and I’ll never forget the panic I felt inside when I saw it. I knew it wasn’t harmless. This was the beginning of my new life, which can only really be explained as being an inverted and violently shaken jar of pickles (I love pickles).
Call it a gut feeling, mother’s instinct, or whatever, but that feeling in the pit of my stomach wasn’t wrong. I clearly remember tucking my young daughter into bed, wishing her a good night, saying I love you, and walking out of her room, whereby I immediately ran to grab my phone and look up what this could possibly have meant. As much as I wanted to believe that it was just a reactive lymph node (vehemently stated on the Google machine), the location of it told me that that wasn’t the case. Rare my ass, I knew what I saw.
That was the last day of my former, normal life. I recall nothing of the day in the hours prior to this incident, only the moment of our discovery and the panic and fear that followed thereafter. Since then, my life has changed in ways I’d never imagined.
Happy 5th birthday to our new life
So, today is the 5th birthday of the new life that my family and I embarked upon just a few years ago, and I suppose it just feels right to acknowledge it and, if possible, celebrate it for what it is. I call it an awakening but others may call it something else. It’s different for each of us because it’s a very personal and individual experience that we all interpret differently.
For me, I celebrate the fact that we managed to survive this ordeal and everything that followed, together. There are many things that can break families apart and as you’ve read, my family nor I, are perfect but we have thus far managed to stay together. We’re still dealing with the ups, downs, and all arounds, just like everyone else, but I hope that these petty things aren’t the things that will break us…only time will tell, HA!
I thank my lucky stars every day for the life I live and acknowledge that at a moment’s notice or in the blink of an eye, anything and everything can change. This awakening really drives home the fact that there are no guarantees in this life (besides death and taxes) and no one knows who is going to be here tomorrow or another 5 years from now. Believe me when I say that I had zero idea that any of this was coming and now I’m left wondering…is this really my life? Pinch me.
Brace for impact or just be blissfully oblivious…that is the question
I live each day not knowing if I should be afraid for the future and if I should prepare accordingly, which means that I can either brace for impact or adopt a state of nonchalance and let the chips fall where they may while hoping for the best. I’d like to think that any and all dues that I may have owed previously have been paid in full and that I should have smooth sailing from here, but life doesn’t work that way. For insurance, maybe I should prepare to bend over, hold my ankles, and kiss my own ass goodbye as I brace for the impact that may be my future…luck favors the prepared, does it not?
While I do that, I suppose I could just be happy about bracing and try to enjoy the hell ride we call life and not worry about where it’ll end up, all at the same time. Isn’t that a whole new level of fucked-up-ness? I’m ready for anything and I’m happy regardless while living in a state of fear…makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? I guess that pretty well sums up exactly how I feel most days, no wonder I’m so all over the map.
Going through all of this, just constantly makes me consider preparing for the worst all of the time. Why I feel like we don’t deserve the positives that life could gift us, is beyond me. I don’t really want to take a wait and see approach in regards to preparedness, but I don’t feel like wearing bubble wrap my entire life and playing it safe and boring. Actually, now that I think of it, I did that before…and where did that get me?
The possibilities of a future unknown
I don’t know if I’ll ever live without the worry of Caelan getting cancer again. It’s pretty hard to shake those worries, believe me. Especially when they said she has an increased chance of getting leukemia (ALL) around the 9-year mark (I think it’s year 9…they told us but never gave us the actual notes, so I’m guessing on the timeline), due to the chemotherapy agents used during her treatment. She’ll have a higher chance throughout her lifetime as well, in addition to a great many other things, so really, having yearly anniversaries doesn’t provide me with much comfort. In reality, it feels like just another violent shake of the pickle jar.
For now, we can only move forward and hope that our future is bright with many new and exciting adventures on the horizon (and as much as I think I could prepare, I know that no matter what, I still won’t be). If the ghosts of cancer’s past come back to haunt us again with a new ghostly friend in tow, we’ll just have to deal with it as it comes. There’s no point in fretting, it’s a total waste of precious time and life.
Today, I am remembering the exact moment that changed our lives and acknowledging just how far we’ve come. If I could keep the lessons I learned but get rid of the rest, I would, but I know that the effect wouldn’t have been the same. I’m also remembering the moments that made my kids my heroes. I can attest that it’s the smallest people who scale the biggest mountains that teach us the greatest lessons.
Congratulations Caelan, Lola, and Clem…we made it. I love you guys, more than anything. Let’s keep this ball rolling and live the best life we can…it’s time. Happy 5!