Today, is a bittersweet day for me.
I woke up to a calendar alert with the message "CANCER FREE" written in all caps and followed by an unnecessary amount of exclamation points.
A year ago I put this in my calendar as a recurring event (end date: Never.) - after receiving my first clean scan during treatments - as a reminder to celebrate the day I became cancer free (like I would actually need a reminder for this day…).
But as most of you know, that elation was short lived. Two months later, the cancer was back.
So now, today - on my first anniversary of being "cancer free" for the first time - is a day of mixed emotions. I'll always remember that day. Standing in the clinic alone (Momma Bear was on the phone in the car on, what felt like, the longest conversation of my life), I faced the nurses solo.
The one line summary of my scan: "No Evidence of Disease."
I'll always remember the excitement and relief I felt that day. After going through physical and emotional hell, I was strong enough to beat cancer.
For two months I was sure that was it. I temporarily lived free of fear as someone who had superhero powers. I honestly (and naively?) didn't think the cancer would come back. But as we know, the cancer did come back. And as someone who has now experienced relapse, I should have cherished those two worry-free months a little more. Because once you've experienced a recurrence, I don't know if you ever completely let go of the fear of the possibility that the cancer may return again.
So now today is a day that is supposed to be about joy and celebration but is instead a reminder of failure and pain. Little Hodgy stole this day, and my thunder, with a relapse.
But maybe a reminder of failure isn't a bad thing. It's a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed. A reminder to cherish our good days. To live better and love harder. A reminder to celebrate our victories, even if they're short lived.
A reminder that in a world full of disappointment and fear, to let joy win.
So today, because of that reminder, I won't be bitter.