Last night I went to a volunteer meeting for the local American Cancer Society Relay For Life in town. I learned a new word - voluntold. When one is a volunteer, their spouse or family member is often a voluntold. I told my husband this last night and his response was 'well at least there is a word for it'.
While at the meeting last night, one person was there and she said it was her 15th cancerversary - 15 year since she was diagnosed, 15 years of cancer free. She had a first date with a new guy and was going out to celebrate after the meeting.
I started thinking about this. Next August would be 30 years since my first diagnosis but next May is 4 years since my second. So do I have to start counting all over at 4? Or since they were two different cancers, can I say 30 and 4? This befuddles my chemo brain. I will have to think about this some more.
But I will say that if I think about how times are different there have been some significant changes. In 1981, the Internet was in its infancy (if you must know the Arpanet, the Internet's predecessor, started in the 1960's). Cancer was a killer, it was the whispered C word, it was not talked about, support groups were for little old ladies held in churches. The treatment was barbaric, chemotherapy was brutal, surgery was radical, it was terminal. Medical information was limited to textbooks to be deciphered with a dictionary at hand.
In 2007, cancer is widely discussed online, there are blogs, online communities, support groups full of young and vibrant people. Cancer is not considered terminal. It is chronic. Medical breakthroughs are happening. Treatment is evolving at the cell level. Information is everywhere.
In 2011, what will the future bring us? I don't know. I do know one thing, to celebrate 30 years of living with cancer and a significant birthday, my husband and I are going to Iceland. Why? Because its there and I haven't been there.