October 6th, a day of anniversaries. First and foremost, it’s the celebration of more than two decades of marriage with my husband, Adrien, a significant achievement. It was 22 years ago that we stood on a beautiful, sandy beach in the Caribbean, under a pretty, white gazebo, and said our vows to each other: “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. Well, not really those words but words with the same sentiment.
We were young and carefree with nary a thought of how, over the years, those vows would be put to the test, which brings me to the 2nd anniversary. It was 6 years ago to the day that I sat in the doctor’s office and heard the words, “You have cancer”. Not as joyous an occasion but significant nonetheless.
When I think of these two dates, they are miles apart, 16 years in fact, but yet so intertwined. That year after my diagnosis was a difficult time for us, to put it mildly, but we rode it out together. Not to say, it was smooth sailing, far from it. It was stressful physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.
But Adrien was the one by my side at every round of chemo and when I rang the Bell of Hope after the final round; the one who shaved his head in solidarity when I lost all my hair; the one who rushed me to the emergency when I had an allergic reaction to my anti-nausea meds; and then the one who broke down and cried as the doctor and nurses took care of me. And, the one who left his full-time job to go out on his own so he would have the flexibility to take care of me and our young daughter. I know I would do the same for him.
So those vows we made 22 years ago have taken on a deeper meaning. Not that we didn’t take them seriously that day on the beach, but they are grounded now in the reality of life – the ups and downs, the good times and bad, in sickness and in health.
So here’s to many more anniversaries of the joyous kind, but we also take heart in knowing we can weather the not-so-joyous ones that will inevitably come our way.
Colleen Kanna is a breast cancer champion and creator of coKANna designs, a line of bamboo knit, Canadian-made clothing for women touched by breast cancer.