Phototherapy

Today is my Cancer-versary. All day I’ve been morbidly imagining a Jacquie Lawson whimsical, animated e-card for this, though I doubt there’s some cutesy montage of a woodland animal getting scared fur-less then starting a blog. Last year, this day was a tough one. This year I’m inventing really inappropriate Christmas greetings in my head as Tinyprints offers no canned holiday slogans for the cancered. I should probably exorcize them prior to sitting down to the actual task.

Merry Christmas from ALL FOUR Lees! Not dead! Yay!!

Still here—Hair-allulia!

Wishing you a wonderful New Year (knock on wood)!

April came over today to exchange gifts, check in, and make sure I hadn’t started drinking, or possibly join me if I had (…these are the things friends do). Two years ago today, I took the life-changing call in her living room. One year ago, to mark a shitty year completed, April organized a trip to Turks & Caicos for our families (…these are the things April does). Her gift to me this year was a bound photo album of that vacation: 38 pages of gorgeous, warm, sun-kissed memories. If today was always going to be about looking backwards with fear and sadness, this lovely book of pictures flipped the switch on that.

Brodie just padded down the stairs with are-you-mad-I’m-still-awake reluctance. He’s deep into the fourth Percy Jackson, and it had gotten a little creepy. It had also gotten quite late past the allotted reading time, but I can never muster any real parental sternness for this transgression. I think many of us remember unsanctioned school night flashlight reading for just one… more… chapter. Usually mommy hugs and expert bed-tucking are the cure for the Can’t Sleeps, but tonight Brodie requested something else:

I need something good to replace the scary things in my head.

Indeed. Though I was going to save it for Christmas, Brodie needed it now. I pulled out the Anderson and Lee Family Adventure book and we reminisced over the images, erasing chapters of spooky monsters, and months of cold terror with the turn of each page. Brodie returned to his cozy bed dreaming of conch shell diving and night swimming and paddle boarding and sea turtles. I returned to my keyboard to write April (this) little thank you for a more-than-she-could-ever-know magical gift of pictures.

Anniversaries are powerful. The sights and smells of Christmastime may always harbor a twinge of fear, hesitation, superstition, and gloom for me. I still haven’t set foot in April’s living room, and I’m growing my hair like I’m trying to prove something. Certainly the cure for scary memories is to outnumber them with fabulous ones. And to do that, all I need is to surround myself with these wonderful people I call family and friends… and to stick around for many more photos.

Two years. Hair. Here. Happy. Hallelujah.

From April's book... me and the boys and a mop of hair and smiles all around

From April’s book… me and the boys and a mop of hair and smiles all around

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6 responses

  1. Britt – I too am a breast cancer survivor and have had the joy of working with Paige at Fiserv. She linked me into your blog. Your posts bring a smile to my face and to my heart. I was diagnosed in 2000 at the age of 46 and the Mother of 3. I ultimately ended up with a bilateral mastectomy, but I won’t bore you with the details. What I can tell you is that I also celebrate Cancer-versaries. I celebrate the last day of my treatments as my cancer free anniversary. When I was called, what happened next is all a blur and those dates are floating in the ever present post chemo haze. (Ok I still blame it on that but it is most likely due to chemo induced menopause and my passion for wine). I just wanted to tell you what I did with my hair. Once it came back – I just let it grow. On my five year cancer free anniversary I had a little party. During the party I had my hair stylist come and she cut the 12 inches off that is needed for donation. That was really fucking cool.
    I never let my cancer define me. I did let my cancer teach me lessons that helped me grow. I learned patience, I learned not to sweat the little and stupid stuff, and I learned the definition of personal strength. I also learned that there was a reason and plan for my cancer – as friggin ridiculous as that sounds. I celebrated my five year cancer free anniversary in November, in December my 12 year old son was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease – pulmonary hypertension. Cancer was God’s way of training me to deal with all the medical, pharmaceutical and emotional things that we have to face.
    So here I am – a breast cancer survivor. I smile, I laugh and I feel like I tricked an insurance company into a covered boob job. Yep – it is all good.
    Thanks Britt for all your words and the people you touch.

    • Wow. Marcia, thank you so much for writing. And congratulations! Five years is a huge milestone in the Cancer-That-Knows-No-Remission community. And it IS all good. I feel that more this year than last. I’m sorry to read about your son… and along with the better prayers of my Zealot sister, I’ll be thinking of you. Lots. xoxo

  2. Yesterday the 16th of December was the anniversary of my sister-in-law’s death.Cathie died in horrific plane crash in NYCity in 1960.She was coming home for Christmas from Northwestern in her Freshman year of college.Two planes collided over Staten Island and hers fell into Brooklyn.Every year I celebrate her short life and named my daughter for her.I never forget.

    • Anniversaries are powerful. I can only imagine how this has tainted Christmas for your family for decades. The only cure, then, is to make the holidays even merrier, to hold our dear ones close, and pray for understanding that eludes us regarding these unfair things.

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