August 09, 2023

Red Star On Your Calendar

Answer: Eating pork belly and charcuterie at Blackbird. Question: Do you celebrate anniversaries in any particular way? The question was recently asked by a blogger on Planet Cancer, and while she was referring to my cancer anniversary, my husband Shannon and I did celebrate our wedding anniversary three days ago at blackbird, so I’ll pontificate on that first… and then on my cancer anniversary.

In addition to being Hiroshima Day, August 6th is also my wedding anniversary. We got hitched that day because it jived with the calendars of a rabbi (who we ended up not using) and our favorite swing band. So why celebrate that day when there are other memorable firsts we could celebrate? First date, first kiss, first time we had sex, the day we moved in together. We spend every day head over heels in love with each other. (Sappy but true, and kind of the idea of marrying someone right?) So, what’s the point in celebrating a wedding anniversary at all then? As far as we can figure out, we celebrate our anniversary because it is the one day a year we can justify blowing a lot of money on dinner at Blackbird.

A cancer anniversary is just as random. (I think mine was on September 7, 2000, but don’t quote me; the entire event rewired my brain and dates are now forever out of order in my mind.) That day just happened to be the date that the lab sent my test results back to the dingy doctor’s office on Pill Hill in Oakland - whom I never visited again. So what? If there were a three-day weekend, or the secretary misplaced the results, I could have easily had a cancer anniversary of September 9 or 12.

Most docs say my cancer began growing in me as far back as ten years earlier. That would have made me a 17-year old geeky-punk rock-hippie girl graduating from Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh. Should I celebrate that as my cancer anniversary? Or should I celebrate my first radiation, or my recurrence date, or the day I received a $9,000 disability check?

And why celebrate a cancer anniversary anyway? Some cancer patients look at it as a time to reflect and be thankful to friends and family. If you need one day a year to remind you to be grateful – well, frankly that’s kinda sad. I’m grateful all the time for my friends and family, and cancer didn’t do that to me. My parents did. They raised me to be an appreciative person. I think they did a nice job.

So screw monumentalism, the big bang of cancer, the moment in my life that the guy in the back of the orchestra finally crashed the cymbals. My guess is that the whole concept of a cancer anniversary was really just created by Hallmark and I’m sure they will start selling cards for it soon. I’ll take pork belly and charcuterie to remember my wedding anniversary, but as for this cancer anniversary business, I think I’ll pass.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook


  1. Ellen Says:
    August 12th, 2008 at 9:34 PM

    Found your blog through Miss Melanoma, it’s nice to hear the thoughts of someone going through a similar experience. Thyroid cancer gets no press, but its just as damaging on the psyche. The only cancer date I celebrate is the day I was declared “clean” and thankfully, it’ll be five years next month. Looking forward to reading your book.

Leave a Comment