June 14, 2016
After appendix cancer, celebrating the little things
BY Ivanna Kern
I recently celebrated my sixth cancerversary with no evidence of appendix cancer. Since my appendix cancer diagnosis, I’ve learned the importance of appreciating each day and celebrating the little things in life.
Here are some of the ways my family and friends helped me find joy during treatment and ways I continue to celebrate life post-treatment.
Celebrating milestones during appendix cancer treatment
My family and friends helped me get through my treatment by finding ways to cheer me up and celebrate different milestones in my appendix cancer journey.
- I invited my best friends to "chemo parties.” We celebrated when I was halfway through with chemo, done with chemo and when I found out there was no evidence of disease. We had a blast spending the evening laughing, enjoying each other's company and being silly. I still remember those parties in such vivid detail and how they energized me.
- During chemo treatment, a friend gave me a hand-knitted, purple, soft prayer shawl made by the "Knit Wits," a church knitting group ministry that provides prayer shawls to people experiencing health crises. I was very touched to know that strangers were thinking about me. When a friend was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years later, I passed the prayer shawl on to her along with the story of how it arrived in my hands. We both shed some tears.
- My friends let me know they were thinking of me by giving unusual little morale lifters. I loved the smooth glazed stone to keep in my pocket that said "Be Strong" and the large silver fortune cookie to remind me of good luck.
- My husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary toward the end of my chemotherapy treatments. Several of our friends were married that same year, so someone threw a party for all of us and asked that we all wear our wedding attire. And we did! It was such a fun, memorable evening.
Embracing life after appendix cancer
As I’ve learned, it’s important to celebrate life all year round, not just on cancerversaries or National Cancer Survivors Day in June.
Take time to splurge and give yourself a whole day of luxury with a massage, facial, pedicure or manicure. Enjoy a good healthy meal as a reminder that you are still on the planet!
Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate the little things in life:
- Enjoy an early morning cup of coffee with my husband
- Walk with my dog on the hike ‘n bike trail
- Watch my two daughters grow and rock their worlds
- Be present for my husband and kids no matter how challenging the day
- Appreciate the love and friendship I share with my extended family
- Support my friends on their various journeys, cancer and otherwise
- Celebrate yet another wedding anniversary
- Camp in the Sierra Nevadas and make s’mores with my kiddos
- Hash out life’s big and little issues with great friends on a regular basis
- Seek out my spirituality
- Remember to laugh more and not take myself too seriously
As I've learned, it's important to celebrate life all year round.