When your life changes, there is before and there is after. The after is made up of milestones, some big, some small, some joyous, some not, that remind you that you're not the same. First Mother's Day after your baby is born, first job after you graduate, first Christmas in your new home, first positive pregnancy test after your miscarriage -- what is just an ordinary Tuesday to you may be a major milestone for someone else.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, you are introduced to a whole new set of milestones. Anniversary of being diagnosed, number of treatments, end of treatment, test results, tumour marker levels, remission, etc. It is consuming and then all of a sudden it isn't. Real life starts to creep back in and you can go weeks, or months, without thinking about what milestone you've reached.
I had been doing a really good job at not thinking about milestones, until I was not doing such a good job. I have a big milestone coming up; this spring will mark five years since I was diagnosed. Five years is a big deal. At five years, I will graduate to once-per-year appointments at the cancer centre. It is exciting and nerve-wracking and also terrifying. I will have one more surgery before I get my five-year-all-clear. I'm looking forward to getting it out of the way but I'm also scared.
The night before my first surgery, I did not sleep. I held baby Grady all night long and stared at his beautiful sleeping face and cried silently for hours. He was in that sweet spot of toddlerhood where he wasn't a baby anymore but he wasn't old enough to remember me if something went wrong. Poppy is the same age now that Grady was when I was first diagnosed and it is messing with my head. It's a milestone that came out of nowhere and I wasn't prepared for how it would make me feel.
This surgery will be my sixth surgery in the last five years. There's nothing about it that should feel ominous; it is an item that needs to be crossed off the cancer checklist before my oncologist will release me into the world of annual monitoring. It isn't nothing, but it doesn't have to be a *thing*. It doesn't have to fill me with dread. But it does. As I get closer to my five year milestone, I'm scared something is going to come along and screw it up. I could use some positive vibes is what I'm saying. (Also therapy. I could use some therapy. But there are only so many hours in the day.)