I did that with Melanoma, too. I am TERRIBLE with dates, absolutely terrible - but diagnosis and death dates seem to stick quite well in my mind. As of February 14th, it had been 8 years since I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and then February 28th, it had been 2 years since I was diagnosed with Melanoma.
When you count each physical day, it's consuming. You begin focusing the wrong energy just to get by each day; focusing on the sadness of whatever day you're counting versus using that energy to live each day and look forward to a new one. BTW - I completely need to relearn that because I am still stuck on the date(s) regarding my father's passing - I'm still stuck on his death because it's still so new. It's still so weird because it doesn't feel real yet (and I'm sure I will write about that later).
If I recall correctly on last year's Mela-versary, I was fairly consumed with Melanoma all day; I kept going over the phone call in my head all day. This year, I didn't even think of it. Come to think of it, I can count the times I've thought about Melanoma on one hand since my dad passed. The first time was the day after finding out about him. The hubs and I were going down the hill from Lake Isabella impound in my dad's truck and he asked me if I had thought about cancer at all. I responded, "Yes". I cried for a second and continued "only because if it ever decides to come back, he wont be here with me".
It was comforting having my dad there to talk with about Cancer. He understood. He would give me pointers on when to call the doctor's office for results - key things to say (*ahem* YELL) to nurses, like this gem: "HEY! You don't have something growing in YOU, do you!!" Ah...he sure had a way with words...or maybe I should say he had a way with his vocal range. He never was afraid to lite a fire under someone's ass to get the results he wanted.
Yet, we had different types of Cancer and were at different stages - but regardless of type or stage: Cancer IS Cancer. Cancer is a fucking asshole that rearranges your life without asking if you like the design. Cancer is a thief. He comes into your home (life), takes your valuable things (sanity, for one) and then leaves. It doesn't matter how much time has passed, you will never feel comfortable in your home again because you know a stranger was there. And you don't dare let your guard down because, if wanted to, he knows how to break back in again...he already made it in there the first time around. Yeah, I think that's a pretty spot on analogy, if I do say so myself.
I know there are countless sources of people that I can 'talk' to - but it was just nice having my dad there and I miss him so much :( I'm not much of a talker about my feelings; neither was he. Just being around his calm, stoic nature calmed me down when I was in the middle of one of my freak-outs. He'd put his giant hand on my shoulder and say "Am, what can ya' do? It is what it is." I'd hold back tears because, if he's not crying with his situation then I have no business crying in mine. Shit, maybe he was holding back tears, too - who the fuck knows with two people that don't talk about emotional shit.
I miss you dad.