On the 13 of October it'll be the 15th anniversary of my diagnosis of breast cancer.
I think it's a good sign that a friend of mine had to remind me of that yesterday.
"Is it?" I exclaimed, and she asked, "So what are you going to do to celebrate?"
For several years after my diagnosis, I always made sure I did something special on my anniversary day, something that I'd always wanted to do, or that I would enjoy. One year I went to Sydney to see La Boheme in the Opera House. Another year I went to the Hermitage and had a front row seat of Mt. Cook beside a picture window through which I could look at this spectacular natural beauty. Other years there have been celebrations over expensive bottles of champagne, or trips overseas to places I've always wanted to visit.
In recent years I haven't been doing that so much and my friend wondered why. I joked that these days it's a bit harder for me to venture off overseas as I have a mortgage and two cats, but the significance of that date is no less important than it was years ago.
When I marked my one year anniversary, I'd not long completed chemotherapy and was taking some pretty full on hormonal therapies which were to offer long term benefit. For the whole of that first year I had been focussed on the day to day, not looking any further ahead than the end of the week. As I stood on the little hill that marked that first year's anniversary, I looked outwards and simply could not comprehend that I might still be around to write about it years later. It wasn't that I didn't want to be here. Of course I did. I just couldn't see it.
But I was hopeful.
Nowadays, every day feels like an anniversary. Most mornings I'll get up, pull back the curtains and have a look at the day, and feel hopeful and glad to be here. The other morning the sky was pink so I took a snap of it, as it is breast cancer awareness month and there's pink all over the place.
It is thanks to a wonderful team of people who looked after me, and of course modern medicine, that I am still here - but I cannot underestimate the power of hope in all of this. From the very first day of diagnosis, I was hopeful, buoyed up by people around me, inspirational women and men who kept me jogging along, and for all of that I am grateful.
So when October rolls around, and the 13th day approaches, I may not outwardly celebrate by kicking up my heels or leaping onto an airplane, but inwardly I'm jumping up and down, clapping my hands, and saying 'hurrah!' not only for me, but for all of the others who celebrate their own anniversaries, and remembering all of those women and men I have had the privilege to know who are no longer here but will always be in my thoughts and living so beautifully in my memories.