Posts Tagged ‘remembering cancer diagnosis’

Diagnosis Day is always hard for me. My daughter, now 5, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma on August 17, 2005 at 8:45am. Tonight, August 16th, we are on the Eve of The Anniversary Of Diagnosis Day.

But, what I’ve found the past two years, especially now that we have officially spent more “years” as a cancer family than not, is that the Eve of Diagnosis Day — otherwise known as “the day before our lives changed” — is a whole lot harder for me. It’s a day that reminds me of a life that might have been and not of what is now.

Now, certainly, we know our blessings. Like many children in the United States who are diagnosed, my daughter is healthy and alive. And, aside from a prosthetic eye, she has lived the past few years as a child who many never assume to have had cancer. Her hair has fully grown back, she is taller than any of her friends, she is smart, funny, sensitive, and incredibly articulate. Back when she was diagnosed, we weren’t sure what her future would hold. And, if you’re reading this as a new parent, I’m quite sure you’re thinking the same thing. If you’re reading this as a seasoned Rb parent, I’m sure you, too, count the blessings you have as well.

Many of my married friends joke about not being able to remember what life was like before marriage and kids. Much like I can’t remember what life was like before I had children, it’s getting harder and harder for me to remember what life was like before retinoblastoma. I can’t remember back when I didn’t really care what sharp object my child had in her hand. I can’t remember back to when “mandatory safety glasses” weren’t a part of our lives. I can’t remember my daughter’s chest without a scar or a port. And, I can’t remember what my daughter’s face looked like without her prosthetic.

But, I also am thankful that, because of our cancer journey, I now have a daughter who embraces life. I have a daughter who is more kind than her peers, especially when there is a new person in the room. Because of our experiences, my daughter isn’t afraid to talk to someone who looks different or who uses a different ability via a wheelchair, walking stick, white stick, or who speaks in a manner that is unfamiliar to us. My daughter is learning, at an early age, that different is special… that different is good.

She is that kid in school who I always wished I had the confidence to be — she is the one who is friends with everyone because she’s the most kind to everyone. She takes care of others, but she has also learned to advocate for herself. I guess that’s from times when I had to leave her alone in the hospital when she was just 2 years old. She had to learn how to speak clearly, quickly, and to express what she felt and what she needed from strangers, at age 2. When we are out and I see 2-year olds, I am am reminded just how much “growing up” my daughter needed to do.

Diagnosis day — in the past, that was the hardest anniversary for me because it signified such a change in our lives. But, now that we have officially crossed that threshold where my daughter has spent more of her life as a cancer survivor than as a non-cancer survivor, I’m feeling a different emotion about pre-Diagnosis Day. It’s a day that’s ambiguous, unclear, to me .. I’m not able to remember life prior to Retinoblastoma….

and, honestly, I don’t think I want to.

If you’ve found this site because of a recent Rb diagnosis,may you find peace on your diagnosis day. If you’re a seasoned Rb family, may you find peace on your anniversary or during this difficult time.

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