The other day, it was two years since I was announced in remission.

Remission is a funny date to celebrate. It's not some magical date I have marked in my calendar as a recurring event each year, the date on which I beat cancer down to the ground and drove my boot hard onto it's throat, as people seems to envisage it being.

The cancer did not climb out of my body while waving a white flag, weary after months of putting up with the same poison I had been.

Christchurch cancer survivor Jake Bailey reflects on the second anniversary of the day it was announced he is in remission from Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Photo / Nick Reed
Christchurch cancer survivor Jake Bailey reflects on the second anniversary of the day it was announced he is in remission from Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Photo / Nick Reed

Instead, it's the date that a very smart person who I've never met before or since looked at a scan of me and decided that, probably, I didn't have any cancer left in my body. Not that they could see, at least. Then another smart person looked at some of my bone marrow under a microscope and couldn't spot any cancer cells doing their thing either.

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All of this was good news of course, but unlike the term "beating" cancer might imply, it did not involve me in any form of physical combat with cancer. Nor did I win a board game against cancer. Given the state I was in, it would be hard to claim that I had won either. I think the cancer and I had both lost to the chemo, but the cancer lost more.

But anyhow, these doctors tagged a word called "remission" onto their findings, and my family celebrated, and I felt a bit odd that whatever rollercoaster I had been on for the last few months had come to an end even faster than it had begun. Nothing of note actually happened, aside from a few wines that I did not partake in.

Jake Bailey with his former Christchurch Boys High School principal Nic Hill during the standing ovation before his emotional end-of-year speech that went viral in 2015. Photo / Supplied
Jake Bailey with his former Christchurch Boys High School principal Nic Hill during the standing ovation before his emotional end-of-year speech that went viral in 2015. Photo / Supplied

Then, beginning the next morning immediately after breakfast, we all sat around with our fingers crossed hoping that this wasn't just the peaceful moment at the top of the rollercoaster, right before it drops again. Last week marked two years of that.

So, feeling that the date is due some form of respect, even if for no other reason than that it brings me another year closer to being out of the "danger zone" of a relapse, I felt obliged to celebrate it.

It didn't deserve a big celebration. Part of me wanted to let it slip silently past, while another part of me felt as though that would be rude and disrespectful, but to whom exactly I'm not quite sure. Maybe my past self, who was having significantly less fun than my current self, and would probably feel offended if I did not take up any excuse to celebrate life.

So I settled on going for lunch, which on the scale of event celebration falls somewhere in between ignoring the date, and blowing up balloons for it, but far closer to the "ignore" side.

We sat at lunch, having our usual meal, in our usual café. It was very normal. So normal, that all I could feel was normal. I tried to jog my memory to remember what a birthday feels like, because surely the anniversary of being in remission should feel at least as good, if not better, than getting another year older.

Jake Bailey on January 29, 2016, the day he received news the chemotherapy for Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he had received for three months was successful. Photo / Supplied
Jake Bailey on January 29, 2016, the day he received news the chemotherapy for Burkitt's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he had received for three months was successful. Photo / Supplied

But try as I might, I wasn't feeling a thing.

The reality was that nothing had changed as another year had passed. Life had gone on, and all I felt was incredibly grateful that it had. So sitting there with my lunch, I came to terms with the lack of feeling. I didn't feel the need to feel anything towards the date itself. It doesn't mean anything to me anymore, because it is nothing more than another day.

Beginning at that moment, the cancer held a smaller piece of control over me than ever before. As another year had passed, it had grown weaker, smaller, an ever shrinking part of my life. Now, under these circumstances at least, it was no longer powerful enough to even elicit an emotion, be it a negative or positive one.

Eventually I'll probably forget the date altogether. If people can forget their wedding anniversaries, than surely that wouldn't be too far of a stretch. Right at that moment, the gods of irony shone down upon our café table. I checked my phone and realised I had the date wrong, and my anniversary wasn't actually until next week.