June 7th will be the 2nd anniversary from my cytoreductive surgery.
It seems really surreal to imagine that two years ago I had a belly full of cancer. I couldn't envision that a huge surgery grueling chemotherapy later I would actually be NED.
I wanted to be NED more than anything, but reading the blogs, the statistics... well, I didn't dare to dream that, I suppose. I wanted five years. I wanted time that I could spend with my son, to watch him grow up. Time for research to be done, more treatments developed.
I have gotten that time, and I am profoundly thankful. This coming December I will be celebrating my 40th birthday, and I promised myself that if I made it to 40 I would celebrate it in style. I intend to! I think that this is officially the start of a new stage in my life, once where cancer isn't everywhere anymore.
With that in mind, we decided for the first time ever to attend the Cancer Relay for Life. Last year I contemplated it, but I just couldn't do it. Everything felt too raw, and honestly I was a mess. Most of the time you can go through your life and function just fine, but sometimes you relieve that trauma.
This year has been about emotional healing for our family. It has been hard in our online support group, as we have lost too many friends and fellow PMP sufferers this past year. It boggles the mind to think about it.
I went to my first Relay for Life, held near where we live. I didn't even tell Chris until I had signed up -- I couldn't figure out how to sign up as a team, so I signed up as me. I did some fundraising, but mostly I wanted to just try and go with Chris and A. and see how we all felt.
We got there early and had a lovely breakfast after I got my yellow survivor shirt. Then we walked the survivor lap -- my guys flanking me, as we reminded ourselves how far we've come together.
They wore out beating Jelly Belly shirts, and I wore my yellow one on top, where with A's help I had written the names of all the friends I've lost to this damn disease. I pretty much cried the whole lap, to be honest.
Still, it was cathartic. A. got to talk to other kids whose lives have been transformed by cancer, roll around in enormous 'hamster' balls and realize that we are not alone. That we were never alone.
My cancer may be rare ( boy do I hate winning that particular lottery!) but cancer affects so many people around us. Just being in a stadium with so many people helped to remind us that we aren't alone. I feel blessed by the wonderful family and friends that saw us through that horrible time, and the strengthened relationships that came out of it.
On June 14th we will be at the Abbotsford Relay for Life ; we hope to meet more people, and do a reading of Bellybuttonless in the survivor tent. If you are there, come say hello! We are all stronger together.