Anniversaries, Cancerversaries, and Milestones of Lung Cancer Treatment and Survivorship

Anniversaries, Cancerversaries, and Milestones of Lung Cancer Treatment and Survivorship

I opened my 13th bottle of Tagrisso last weekend, marking a full year of treatment with this very new T790M and EGFR inhibitor. It’s been a great year, full of love and adventures. I feel like celebrating, even though celebrating a milestone with a lung cancer treatment may not be everyone’s idea of a good time.

This anniversary is especially sweet because it is unexpected. This is my third line of lung cancer treatment and my second go-round with a T790M inhibitor. When I started taking it, I never expected that it would work so well for so long. I figured that my body was already building resistance to this class of drugs, and that I had burnt through a good chunk of the year I might reasonably expect a T790M inhibitor to work for me. I feel like, for once, I’ve had a better-than-average response. So I will celebrate it, and share it with people I know, in person and online.

My approach to the milestones of life and treatment has been influenced by a friend of mine, Tori, who is raising three children and building a business with her husband while living with stage IV lung cancer. She wrote about how cancer stripped away any sentimental attachment to whatever stage her kids are currently in. She never says, “oh, they grow up too quickly.” Each benchmark of development is savored because she was there to witness it. Her kids can grow up as quickly as they want, and she will celebrate it all.

That same idea lies behind celebrating the anniversary of a lung cancer diagnosis, what we in the community fondly call our cancerversary. At first glance, the idea seems crazy. Why would anyone celebrate having cancer? After you’ve lived with cancer for a while, though, you understand. Every milestone, every special occasion, every cancerversary is a small victory for life even if it provides no guarantees for what may lie ahead. For those fortunate lung cancer patients who have responded to treatment, reaching the 5-year survival mark is as amazing as winning the lottery.

Besides treatment milestones, there are birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, holidays, all of the special occasions we mark with families and friends. These all take on added meaning, and not just for us. The people who love us are also celebrating the fact that we are still alive and able to share the joy of the occasion with them.

When we share our milestones, we also support other lung cancer patients, our caregivers, and everyone who cares. We fan the little flame we call “hope”, that special feeling that helps us all through the tough times. Other lung cancer patients are following in our footsteps, and are eager for stories of how others have fared with their treatments. As we have learned to hope from other people’s milestones, so we in turn help those coming up behind us when we tell our stories and share the signposts of lung cancer treatment.

Have you found anything to celebrate in your lung cancer journey? Do you celebrate your cancerversary?

You can read the post from my friend Tori that inspired me here:

7 Replies

  • Congratulations on your cancerversary. I agree that every milestone and celebration has special meaning when diagnosed with cancer. I find I notice things like a beautiful sunset, seeing Venus in the night sky, time with family and friends or a beautiful sunny day. They take on a special meaning now. We must keep on knitting, enjoy our sci fi and all those big and little joys that come our way.

    I'm so glad we met through this site. Keep fighting.


  • Jean, sometimes I think the little joys are the most breathtaking and life affirming.

    I'm glad I've met you here as well.


  • Great news and very inspirational. Really appreciate you sharing your story And your support for others

  • Thank you, CaliforniaGuy. I'm wishing you many occasions to celebrate ahead.


  • Sometimes I forget how far back you've had to fight. I'm so glad that you've had this success and plan on being around for #s 61 & 122

  • Congratulations! I love reading your positive, hopeful, and real approach. Like your friend, I never say, "slow down!" About my children growing but instead often think, "grow fast, my dear ones. Grow faster than my cancer so we can together experience as much of your childhood as possible!"


  • congratulations and well done. I'm so happy for you for you anita. You didn't see it coming did you. Did you let your self hope,well if you did you weren't wrong. Anita it was your time so please by all means celebrate your life. Your in a good place right now and i'm hoping and praying you stay their. with love Susie Jo

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