How seven cancer patients celebrated the end of cancer treatment
Finishing cancer treatment can be a momentous occasion – one that calls for celebrating in ways both big and small. But there’s no right way to celebrate.
We recently asked some of our bloggers how they celebrated. Below, they share what they did to ring in life after cancer treatment.
Ringing the bell Every week, as I was weighed before my chemo treatments, I saw the bell, which patients ring to signal the end of their treatment. As I got closer to finishing my 16 rounds of chemo, I knew I had to celebrate! And I knew I had to include the bell and my awesome support system. When the day came, about 30 people joined me to ring the bell. I showed cancer who won! It was a special moment, and I was so happy and moved to be able to share it with my loved ones. After the actual ringing, we stepped out into the lobby on the 8th floor of Mays Clinic and had a toast (with sparkling juice, of course). It’s a day I will never forget.
The second time I finished radiation, I rang the bell and danced and even took my radiation mask and kicked it as hard as I could. I was so happy. It felt like the light at the end of a very long, dark, cold tunnel. It reminded me that I could do anything and that I could inspire others, too. The main celebration, though, was in my heart. I could finally say, “I did it. I'm done.” No more PICC line, no more radiation mask, no more IV fluids or chemo, no more tape on my tummy to line me up to the radiation machine. I could finally breathe and go back to living my life.
Family gatherings and conversations We had a small celebration with family at our house where we grilled and ate and talked. We had a toast to my clean scan. It was a nice small celebration with the people who were beside me from the beginning.
On our drive home to Beaumont, 90 miles from Houston, I called my close friends, local doctors, my two brothers and my three children. My daughter put me on her speaker so her co-workers could hear my news. They all clapped!
That evening, after my husband and I stopped at a good restaurant to eat, I made more phone calls. The news spread, and I received many hugs and congratulations for several days!
Finding the extraordinary in ordinary things For me, the real celebration began when my port was taken out. That's when we celebrated with things that you can't do while on chemotherapy –swimming in a public pool, eating at a buffet, going to the movies without a mask, and my favorite, playing basketball. As a 17-year-old, I felt like I had conquered something significant.
I don’t think I did anything to celebrate end of treatment. But I celebrate my “rebirthday” each year simply by reminding myself it was the day of my stem cell transplant. I also celebrate my “cancer-versary” because I’m still here! My celebrations are daily – every day I wake up breathing.
Going off to college Throughout my synovial sarcoma treatment, I had to stay in college to keep my health insurance. But to do that, I had to take online courses that didn’t allow me to work toward the career I wanted. After I finished treatment, I applied to college in Daytona Beach, Florida, and got accepted. That was really my first big step into this "new normal." I'm graduating in December, and plan on visiting Disney World after graduation. I never could have dreamed any of this was possible when I got diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in 2011. I now feel more driven to chase my dreams, despite my past with cancer.