I finished my last Radiation treatment the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2017. That year, Thanksgiving was especially celebratory, as I could focus on the holidays knowing I was *finally* done with intensive cancer treatments.
There’s a lot of conversation about what designates a “cancer-versary”. For me, it was the last treatment appointment. For others, it might be a doctor’s appointment where they are declared NED – “No Evidence of Disease.” There’s no actual official timetable for this date, which makes it a little hard to know when and how to feel “done.”
However it’s determined, I think it is SO important to acknowledge and celebrate the end of cancer treatments - to have a date to use as a go-forward demarcation point in life – the date BEFORE and AFTER Cancer. How patients celebrate is highly personal. My friends threw me a party and it was spectacular – but I’m an extrovert with extremely generous friends. There are SO many great options to consider, depending on where patients rank from extrovert to introvert and budget range. I put together a handy-dandy chart with ideas along all parts of the spectrum.
The most important thing is to acknowledge and celebrate one’s cancer-versary. One of the best ways friends and family can support cancer patients is to gently nudge them to declare a cancer-versary date. The actual event matters so much less than the choice to celebrate. Whether it’s a blowout bash or quiet picnic in the park, my strong recommendation is to take a minute to acknowledge and celebrate the end of a treatment plan. Acknowledge the struggle and celebrate the accomplishment!