ONE YEAR AS A SURVIVOR

The first year of breast cancer survivorship:  What no one tells you.
What no one told me about the first year of breast cancer survivorship.  Mommy Standard Time Blog

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What I wish I had known about breast cancer survivorship one year ago.

September 15th is now an anniversary in our household.

It is the day that I “got my life back,”  so to speak.

Heck yes, they're fake.  The real ones tried to kill me!

Not only was it the day that I had my last of 28 radiation treatments (after a bilateral mastectomy and 16 rounds of chemo), but it was also the day that we found out that Mr. Blue Eyes got a promotion and that we would be relocating.  I could physically feel the relief as it felt like I was moving on with my life after breast cancer.

(I always get a lot of questions about my shirt. I bought it on Amazon…here is the link.)

At some point during my frequent cancer appointments, one of my nurses explained that she had heard most people say that it took them around a year for their energy to return after cancer treatment.  In my mind, I heard her say that I would be back to my “old self” after one year.

But, in reality, she never said that.

In fact, there are many things that weren’t said to me about my first year as a cancer survivor.   I’m sure it’s because everyone transitions differently so they didn’t want to impact my expectations of life after cancer, but there were definitely some things that I wish I had known a year ago.  I am sharing those things with you so that you might be prepared for some of the same thoughts/emotions, either in your own life as a survivor or in the life of your loved one who has been fighting cancer.

The first year as a breast cancer survivor. What I wish I had known.

Here are just a handful of things I wish someone had told me:

YOU WILL STILL FEEL TIRED AND BROKEN

Sometimes, in my busy day-to-day living as mom and wife, I forget the fact that my body was injected with POiSOn for five months. I get frustrated at how tired I feel sometimes and how little I still seem to get done in a day. (My new job is probably not helping much, but I know that cancer recovery is still a factor.)  I have to remind myself to be patient with myself; there is damage that still needs to be repaired:

My gut is still not the same.

I have a couple of numb toes that might never regain sensation.

I still feel like an old woman when I try to exercise.

I am trying to give myself some grace, but there are definitely moments of frustration when I just want my old, unpoisoned body back.

On top of that, there are the joys of menopause.  I mean, yeah….you hear about how menopause isn’t super awesome.  Plus, you might have had a sneak peek if your ovaries were put to sleep during chemo.  But nothing quite prepares you for the ups and downs of menopause.  Hot flashes…..mood swings…..extra weight that won’t budge….and so on.  Then, to pour salt on the wound, there is very little that can be done to ease the symptoms (considering most of the treatments involve hormones, which would be catnip for many cancers).

What is a survivor to do?  Well, for me, I have decided to buckle down on my exercise and weight loss.  I had previously been attempting to “go it alone” but that hasn’t gone over well.  So I sought some additional help.  (I will be talking more about this new direction soon!)  I would just recommend finding something that works for you!  Give yourself some grace but set some goals!  There is something so soul-satisfying about working toward a goal.  There is so much damage that has been done to your body that you can’t control…take charge of what you can!

YOU WILL STILL CRY WHEN YOU SEE YOURSELF NAKED

Since we’re speaking of longing for “old bodies”….

(Sorry if this section is TMI, but as a survivor it has helped me to hear that I’m not alone. This is my contribution.)

Luckily, I don’t cry in front of the mirror all that often; it’s normally when I’m in the aforementioned throes of menopausal mood swings.  But in the past 365 days, I have been known to tear up a little bit when I am drying myself off after a shower.  (And it’s been more than a few times.)  Between my menopausal muffin top and my Frankenstein scars, I feel like I’m looking at a stranger’s body sometimes.

To my dear family members and close friends who might find this next paragraph awkward, just keep scrolling.  For everyone else, I will say that the tears about my body have extended into the bedroom as well.  I have been blessed with a compassionate and patient husband who still finds me attractive.  But I will tell you that intimacy can still be difficult for me at times, even one year into survivorship.

What is a survivor to do?  I recently attended a presentation from a life coach who talked about the fact that almost every emotion is preceded by a thought.  In order to sidestep some of my post-shower tears, I needed to identify the thoughts that were sparking this emotional reaction. 

From there, I tried to think of an affirmation that could replace each negative thought.  I have written some of these affirmations on a post-it note that is stuck to my bathroom mirror. 

It hasn’t totally cured my occasional bursts of emotion, but it has definitely helped.  Give it a try!  It certainly can’t hurt to tell yourself how beautiful you are!

(If you struggle to come up with your own affirmations, you can try this one (you can even buy it as a cool wall decal, although it looks to be  a little large for a bathroom mirror. I might have to put this on a sticky note…)

YOU WILL STILL STRUGGLE WITH YOUR FEMININITY

There’s really not much more to say about this.  Between weight gain, reconstructed breasts, and a lack of hormones, I still don’t feel very feminine.  In fact, I have literally been called “sir” twice in the past month or so.  And my hair is a very respectable length for a female!

What’s a survivor to do?  Treat yourself!  Find what makes you feel awesome and go for it! Whether it’s a spa day, hair accessory, or a new outfit, do something for YOU.  When I was rocking super-short hair, I loved to wear big, awesome earrings!

plastic surgeon check-up

My other tip is regarding hair growth (since that was one of my obstacles to feeling feminine): Treat each hair length like a style and not like a stage you’re trying to “get through.” This might mean trimming a little bit of the hair that you have worked so hard to regrow, but you’ll be grateful in the long run! 

And one more tip: It might not help you feel more feminine, but consider going to the barber for your first few trims post-cancer.  They are so much cheaper than the salon! 

You could also ask your cancer center if they have made any arrangements with local hair salons for cancer patient discounts.  My hometown has a beauty school that helps cancer patients for free as their hair grows back in.

YOU WILL STILL HAVE TOUGH CHOICES TO MAKE

Overwhelmed by breast cancer information

As you probably remember, most of the difficult decision making took place before and during cancer treatment (see photo above).

Should I opt for a bilateral mastectomy?

Should I do genetic testing?

Should I have radiation?

Should I freeze some eggs?

Should I have my ovaries removed?

For me, these decisions (while horribly difficult) were made without much hesitation on my part.  My goal from the very beginning was to be healthy for the three kids I have and the decisions I made felt like the right ones for me.

But as it turns out, non-life-altering decisions are a little more difficult for me to make.  I am currently struggling with decisions regarding my reconstruction.

Do I have the plastic surgeon create nipples on my fake Frankenstein boobs or do I embrace what I have?

If I opt for nipples, will I move forward with tattooing?

Should I opt for just tattooing the nipples without having them physically created from skin?

I am finding these decisions to be very tough considering there is no medical reason for me to go under the knife again.  I know there are many reasons why women move forward with nipple reconstruction and it could turn out to be a very beneficial step for me as well, but I was on the fence about it until just a day or two ago.

What’s a survivor to do?  Reach out!  There are still many professionals who would be happy to discuss things with you, even though you are “finished” with treatment.  For my particular decision, I found it helpful to ask my plastic surgeon for before and after pictures of the nipple reconstructions he has performed;  I talked to my oncologist about this surgery as well.  Ultimately, my decision has been made (more on that soon).  If you struggle with any post-cancer decisions, just remember that your cancer team still exists and wants to help you even if you aren’t seeing them very often anymore.

YOU WILL STILL WORRY

This was probably the hardest part of my first 365 days of survivorship.  Of all the things I’ve already shared, this one is unique because no one needed to tell me that I would still worry about cancer.  I just didn’t realize how MUCH a part of my life the worry about recurrence would actually be.

It really is an odd thing.  I don’t spend my days huddled in the corner, worried about my cancer returning.  Who has time for that?!  Instead, the concern about recurrence will pop up at the weirdest times. 

Here’s an example:  I was recently making a quick drive to the grocery store (literally a three minute drive from my house).  As I turned to look over my shoulder while backing out from my driveway, I thought to myself “Ouch, my rib cage is sore!”  Simple enough, right??  Wrong!  By the time I arrived at the store, my train of thought had derailed to the point that I was mentally drafting “Read this when…” letters to my kids in case I die.  (You know the letters…”Read this when you graduate from high school”…”Read this on your wedding day”…etc.) 

Long story short, in three minutes I went from “busy mom making a quick run to the store” to “anxious cancer survivor trying to regain her composure so she can go buy some bananas.”

I know this is morbid.  And if you had asked me 365 days ago if this would be part of my somewhat-regular living, I would have laughed.  I am a pretty reasonable person and I am also a woman of faith, but every once in a while the illogical anxiety of a cancer survivor can take over for a few minutes.

What’s a survivor to do?  Speak up! 

For me, vocalizing my anxieties helps my brain process them.  It doesn’t take long for the realist in me to remind myself that, statistically speaking, I don’t need to worry about dying any time soon. 

I mention my concerns to Mr. Blue Eyes, to my parents, and to my oncologist.  They get it.  Find your people who “get it” and speak up when you’re worried about something.  There are support groups and therapists who are happy to help as well!  Your head can be a scary place, so find a way to get out if it!  🙂

 Another thing I have been tempted to do is write those “Open when….” letters anyway!  Life is unexpected!  I found these adorable books that would be a great way to compile these letters.  And then maybe they won’t pop into my mind so often!

YOU WILL STILL BE A DIFFERENT PERSON

I haven’t gone back through and read my whole cancer story in its entirety, but I have skimmed a few posts here and there.  As I have reflected on some of those posts, what I have noticed is that a switch flipped when I found out I had cancer. 

My life goals changed. 

My perspective changed. 

My temperament even changed. 

However, as I’ve read these old posts and reflected on where I was then versus where I am now, I have found that some of the “old Stephanie” has been able to emerge out from under “cancer patient Stephanie.”  For the most part, that’s a good thing.  🙂

But, what is completely clear is that, even over a year past my diagnosis, I remain a different person because of cancer…in a GOOD way.  It has been a pleasant surprise. 

Yes, there are times when I get bogged down by aspects of day-to-day living (coughcoughpottytrainingcoughcough) and forget the drive to “make every moment count” that I had when I first got diagnosed. 

BUT, I am still very slow to get ruffled by things. 

There is so much that we worry about as a society that just really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Life is too short and fragile to be annoyed or worried by things that really don’t deserve a second thought.  Maybe it’s something ridiculous that a troll posted on social media or maybe it’s fitted sheets…. (Haha!  I need this for my laundry room.)

 What’s a survivor to do? Enjoy the positive changes you’ve noticed in yourself!  Embrace your new perspective on life.  Don’t get bogged down by thoughts of recurrence!  Enjoy your newly-prioritized life so that, no matter what happens, you will feel like you have given life the best version of you for as long as you are blessed to do so.

So there it is.  Now you know what I wish people had told me one year ago.

I’m not back to my “old self” after 365 days as a cancer survivor.  But I wouldn’t say that’s all bad.

Here’s to another year!

What do YOU wish someone had told you (or a loved one) about cancer survivorship?  Let me know in the comments below!

Pin this post if you’d like to come back to it later! You can also (click here) to follow me on Pinterest so that you don’t miss any of my upcoming cancer-related posts.

56 thoughts on “ONE YEAR AS A SURVIVOR”

  1. You are a gifted writer and wonderful woman. I am so mindful of watching you dance with joy with the girls at girls camp. It is a privilege to associate with you. God bless.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! I can connect to so much of what you said! I wish someone told me how uncertain I would feel once everything was “over.” For months I saw doctors/oncologists on an almost daily basis. Then I finished treatments and it was a hug goodbye. I had no idea what to expect next. A year later I still get emotional and anxious with every scheduled mammogram. I had such strength while going through everything but it took me a while to build my strength back up once everything was “over.” Reaching out to a mentor through Imerman’s angels helped! Being able to talk to someone who went through what I went through really helped!

      1. That is a VERY uneasy feeling! I remember the first time I stepped out of the cancer center as an “active” patient. It was definitely unsettling. Like you, I still get emotionally stirred up on appointment days, even if I don’t mentally connect the dots. Thank you for sharing about your mentor. I’ll have to look into that! Best wishes to you!!

  2. I am almost 3 weeks out from DMX and will start radiation soon. I saw your post on Pinterest and believe God led me to it at just the right time. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. I wish someone had told me how sore my armpit would be after all my lymph nodes were removed. Not one medical professional told me I would have lymphadema which would require wearing what essentially a girdle forever.

    1. I agree. No one mentioned lymphedema to me either. I have to wear compression garments for the rest of my life and had to give up work. It is a constant reminder of cancer.

    2. I understand what you are going through. Make sure you have good instructions on lymph drainage, massage therapy, a body brush to stimulate lymph movement and I have a lymphedema pump. If you can get insurance to cover, it is awesome- like a massage.

  4. 6 years for me. What I wish someone had told me is that I would get impatient with people who are focused on things that just don’t matter. It’s hard not to lecture people and it’s taken me 6 years to (almost) stop going this. Thank you for this article. It’s a hard journey … but I’m so happy I had the « chance » to take it. I know I am a better person after cancer than I was before. Best of luck & hugs!

  5. Amazing and inspirational….I finished chemo 4 months ago. My diagnosis was March 2018….by May 2018 my partner left me ….I have done this alone and I wondered if this has happened to anyone else? I stood in front of him and asked for his support but he basotokd me to F….k off 🙁

  6. I found your post on Pinterest just as I have been in deep thought about what no one tells you about the first year after cancer…it was just what I needed to read as I too stare in the mirror and can’t identify (yet) with the woman staring back at me. I value what cancer has taught me and I live life to the fullest. Last chemo was on 2/28/18 and last Herceptin on 10/28/18so here’s to moving forward! Stephanie 🙂

  7. Thank you for the info! I got diagnosed June 14th final Chemo 10-26-18. Had double mastectomy Nov 20 & total hysterectomy Dec 19. What I wished someone told me was that your entire chest armpits to around the back would be numb and that the spacer can sit in your armpit causing TONS of pain. Or that your incision could open leaking fluid.

    1. That is so true, Melissa! There are so many physical side effects and complications that aren’t always communicated to us! I didn’t realize the numbness would be so complete, but I have noticed some very slight return of sensation over time. Hopefully you might have similar luck! Congratulations on finishing treatment and I wish you the very best as you continue in your recovery.

  8. Thank you for sharing your posts. I was diagnosed just before christmas 2018. I returned home in another state to see my folks for support and when returning home where the sun shines 364 days a year my crazy neighbor set our apt complex on fire and was displaced for a short time. Its been very stressful and i dont know what to expect reading the posts have given me some focus and realistic expectation. I will be seeing the oncology and radiologist and second biopsy next week. I am trying to be hopeful and reading the post help when i feel crazy with non positive thoughts are helpful thank you!

    1. What a roller coaster you have experienced! I am so sorry that you have to deal with cancer on top of everything else. Just keep moving forward…sometimes it’s as simple as one hour at a time. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. Hugs to you!

  9. Thank you for sharing your story. I had a lumpectomy January 2018, finished Chemo April 2018, and radiation July 2018. The last dose of my target drug will be next week. I too found that things just don’t bother me like they used to. On Facebook I would write a “Whiney Wednesday “ every week on topics from problems in the world, stupid drivers or little things like how I hate how powdered sugar falls all over you when having a donut. Since my diagnosis, I’ve missed many Wednesdays because I can’t even think of something that bothers me. Different priorities, different way of thinking. Bless you on your continued healing!

  10. Thanks Stephanie for sharing your story you should be so proud. After reading this i was reminded that I am not alone- there are so many women who are making this journey and learning a whole lot of stuff along the way – sometimes I am thankful that I was unaware of how tough it could be post chemo and surgery- but we will get there and articles like this help in so many ways. Thank you

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Viv. I am so glad that this post helped you to feel like you are not alone. That is exactly why I continue to share posts like this. You are SO right…sometimes it was nice to go in with no expectations. Take my sentinel node biopsy for example: I am glad I didn’t think to look into it online before it happened or I would have had NO sleep leading up to my mastectomy. Ouch! Hugs to you during your continued recovery!

  11. You were spot on with all these things! From June to Dec, I had 6 surgeries/procedures. At the age of 29, I didn’t imagine my life going down this path so soon.
    I wish someone would have told me that emotionally, well for me, after treatments is the hardest. I was deep into the survival mode during treatments I didn’t pay as close attention to my emotional self as I wish I had.
    Here’s to the first year of survivorship! #BRCA1

    1. Laura, that is such a good way to describe it! Being in survival mode is EXACTLY what it felt like. I just put my head down and soldiered on. One day, toward the end of my chemo, I got teary at the beginning of my appointment because I was just overwhelmed by everything (and with thoughts of being “done” with actively killing cancer cells…what next?!). I was met in the chemo room by my nurse and a social worker. They basically said “We’ve been waiting for this day.” They could see that I had been moving from thing to thing without paying too much attention to what was going on emotionally. I think it happens All. The. Time. with those of us fighting cancer, which is why I am so grateful to have this space for open discussion. We aren’t alone! Best wishes to you!!

  12. Great post! I wish someone had told me to expect to start living a “new” reality. You complete the treatment, yet you still feel so fragile. You are so thankful to be alive, yet fear can grip you at the silliest of moments. You want to do good, healthy things, but sometimes start to think…just eat the cake because “what if”…I have two young adult children and I cannot keep from thinking in my mind they need to hurry up and be successful, or graduate college, or get married, or have a child because I’m living on borrowed time…in some ways it makes you almost feel selfish and ashamed until you realize you are just wanting a normal future! It is truly amazing that we all have these same thoughts, yet we are all strangers. I am thankful that you had the courage to post this and I’m thrilled that you are a survivor, too! Be blessed, God knows our hearts!

    1. Well said, Julie! That is ALL so very true. Every milestone for my kids that I am able to witness carries extra emotion because I’m just so grateful to have lived long enough to see it. And then in the next moment my post-cancer whispers “Will you be there for the NEXT milestone?” Like you, I also love the fact that we can share our thoughts and experiences with each other, unified by our fight with this common enemy. Best wishes to you, Julie!

  13. Bilateral surgery June 2016. Second surgery November 2016. I never was a vain person. Now it seems I am acutely aware of my wanting to be more female. I am depressed about not having nipples any longer. It never crossed my mind before the surgery that I would feel this way. Yes, Frankenstein is the best way to describe what my body looks like. I want to feel happy I am done with Cancer, but looking in the mirror reminds me Cancer left me with a constant reminder. I have thought about doing the nipple tattoo, but am worried I do this and then feel no different about how I feel after.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It means the world to all of us.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sandi. I was on the fence about nipple reconstruction/tattooing for a while, so I totally understand where you are coming from. I wasn’t sure that nipple reconstruction would actually make THAT big of a difference, but in my case it has been a huge change in how I view my post-cancer body. Most of it is subconscious, actually. My brain is no longer startled at the flat surface of my reconstructed boobs now that I have some nipples there. I can’t speak for tattooing, but it seems like many women are happy with that decision also. I hope that you can find what works for you!

  14. Dear Stephanie,

    Congratulations on being a cancer survivor. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am just beginning mine. My bilateral mastectomy is scheduled for February 5, 2019. Your honesty and insight is very inspirational. I appreciate all of the tips that you have given to help cope with what lies ahead.

    1. Oh, Lynette. I’m so sorry that you have to travel this road. I am glad that my posts have been helpful to you and I hope that you feel comfortable to reach out if you need someone to talk to. I hope that you’ve read my post about mastectomy preparation…I was definitely over-prepared and I try to save other women the time and expense with that post. Hugs and best wishes to you!

  15. 4.5 weeks post DM, 20 weeks of chemo, and the horrid ness of drain tubes, I wish someone would have informed me of the new language I was about to learn, and you have to use it respectfully around non cancer people. And that your life will split in two. One side are you close family and friends and your cancer buddies, the other half is everyone else that doesn’t speak “cancer code”.

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I was diagnosed 2/23/18 and had a double mastectomy 3/27/18. I was not a candidate for immediate reconstruction and am still battling with whether I am going to even do it. A big part of me just wants all of the treatment to be over, but another part feels self conscious, especially when it comes to wearing a bathing suit for vacations. Thankfully, my husband is supportive either way. I believe the emotions and worry that comes out of the blue has been my hardest part of the last 11 months post diagnosis. Much love to you as you continue this journey!

    1. That is very true, Antonia! Those emotions really do pop up out of NOWHERE, don’t they? Thank you for so much for sharing your experience. I wish you the very best as you continue your recovery and make decisions about your reconstruction choice. I’m confident that whatever you decide will be what’s best for YOU. Hugs!!

  17. Diagnosed 4/13/18 and just finished my treatments on Wednesday (1/30/19). I can relate so much to what you wrote and many of the reader’s responses. I definitely feel that cancer has blessed me with a new perspective and a better version of me. I am ready to begin the next chapter.

  18. Stephanie, Thanks so much for this post. I am a mother of 3 and 4 grandchildren. I felt the exact same way. I’m one year out of treatment as well and I’m in the last phase of reconstruction with surgery scheduled for March 25th. I opted out of the nipple reconstruction because I’m literally sick of surgeries. Nobody told me about sepsis(infection of the blood) which I had twice and hospitalized. I know the life AC(after chemo)would be different but nothing like everything you described and I can truly be a witness. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    1. Oh, Kerry! Sepsis TWICE?! I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that on top of everything else. Congratulations on being done with treatment and (almost) reconstruction! Best wishes for a healthy future that involves lots of precious time with your kids and grandchildren.

  19. I “celebrated” my one-year diagnosiversary 2 weeks ago, and I just saw this blog post. I tried to make “patience” my word of the year, but I’m failing miserably. I have no patience with getting back to my “normal” life. It makes me think of the song I don’t know if I have changed for the better, but since cancer I have been changed for good. This active mama of three just wants to run a 5K without wincing in pain the next day! I want to be back to the weight I was a year ago! I want my sex drive back! I want to not feel tired all.the.time! This blog post is a reminder to me that I’m still recovering, and that I need to be patient. Sigh! I don’t know if I have anything to add, but I wish someone had told me all of those things before. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have listened.

  20. I will be one year since my last treatment on July 23. It took me almost this whole year to realize “I am healthy”. Every doctor appointment I spent bringing up possible problems, only to be told “yes, that’s normal”. Finally a switch clicked in my brain, “I. Am. Healthy.” I quit looking constantly for problems, I accepted my new normal, and I began to move forward with this new life I’ve been granted. Sure, my body aches, I get weird, random headaches, and I hate how I look (personal problem I’m trying to overcome and accept!)…but I don’t dwell on these issues and wonder if “OMG it’s back!” Instead, I tell myself that if it is a real problem, I’ll know soon enough. And why waste precious time with all the “what ifs”? I don’t know if someone could have told me I would have to come to the realization that “I am healthy” , so that I would stop the constant recurrence-chatter in my brain…I know people talk about our “new normal” all the time. But I think it’s something we all come to in our own time. So…I. Am. Healthy. Case closed… 😉

  21. My Mom sent this link to me and hoped I would read it. I did and am so happy that I did. I am almost in tears though. I can relate to everything you are saying. I too, have been through many chemo and radiation treatments and have had a double mastectomy. Reconstructive surgery to follow in the Fall.
    Thanks for your article!

    1. I’m so glad you found something you could relate to in this post. You’re NOT alone! I hope your reconstruction goes smoothly and that you the process brings you some closure. It is definitely an emotional process, so be prepared for that! It sounds like you have a good support system, though. Hugs and best wishes to you and your family!

  22. Thank you for sharing. I feel like everyone in my life expects I will put it all behind me since I’m several years post treatment, but I just don’t feel like it’s over. I’m sill living it. Fatigue, memory loss, pain from my 6 surgeries, and Tamoxifen. No one in my life knows how hard this still is.

  23. I can totally relate to all of this… I am two years out from my chemo, radiation and initial surgery and I am still exhausted many days. I feel like it aged me 20 or 30 years! I was 48 when I was diagnosed and I feel like I’m approaching 80 some days. i have had a few reconstruction surgeries after my mastectomies and actually have one more scheduled in December. Just want to get it behind me and at least have no more surgeries but I feel very grateful that God has healed me and carried me this far. Thank you for sharing your journey, it’s very inspiring and helpful. Bless you!

  24. I just found out I have to go for a mammogram and I am terrified. I have three little kids and no energy left at the end of the day. Thank you for being so brave to share your story.

  25. Hi Stephanie,
    I completed my last round of radiation a week before last Christmas. Thank you for your post. I actually pinned it during my chemo treatments, for a later read. And I am glad I did.
    When did you determine your start date of being cancer free? The day of your last treatment? The day of your follow up appointment?
    Thank you for responding?

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Terisa! Congratulations on finishing your treatment! For me, I started counting my first year of survivorship on the day of my last treatment. For me, personally, that was the day that I truly felt “cancer free.” Hugs and best wishes to you!

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