I woke up this morning thinking, “It’s February 13. I know February 13 is something – I just don’t know what. What’s so important about February 13?”
Yes, it’s the day before Valentine’s Day, a manufactured holiday that I think is best celebrated by wearing one of my many red sweaters and buying discount candy at CVS on the 15th. (Doesn’t mean the Hallmark commercial that has been running this week hasn’t gotten me choked up.)
And yes, as Facebook so kindly reminded me, it is the birthday of two friends, but not friends I should have been planning parties or presents for.
So what was it?
At 2:30 this afternoon, I remembered. February 13 is the anniversary of my first radiation treatment, four years ago today.
It was the day after an ice storm, at the end of so many weeks on the damned low-iodine diet, when it was just me, and a paper-and-plastic lined room, and a seemingly endless supply of Gatorade, a bunch of disposable reading material, a guy with a Geiger counter, and a couple of radioactive pills designed to zap me from the inside out.
When I realized what today was, I started to cry, though I can’t tell you why. Maybe it was the surprise, the fact that I’d somehow forgotten? Which is a big surprise in and of itself, because it seems like my cancer is always there. Not dragging me down, not weighing on me, but an elemental part of who I am now, something I can’t forget any easier than my eye color or my birthday. How could I have forgotten it was there?
I’m sure some of it is the residual frustration I have with how hard the radiation was for me – not so much physically, but psychologically. I was no peach to deal with leading up to or after the RAI treatment, either time.
I’ve been thinking since last November—my cancerversary, which I never forget—about how 2012 would be year five, the year of traditional celebration for cancer patients. I’d already started plotting my short list of restaurants – you know, the places you’ve always wanted to go but never had a good enough reason? I’ve known that I’m going to have a good enough reason this year.
I guess I forgot that some other milestones might sneak up on me in the meantime.