The first is the day of diagnosis. For me, that will always be the day after father's day. It doesn't even need a numerical date.
The second is the day of surgical operation, the bodily invasion. For me, it was a double mastectomy on July 12, 2005. In many ways it is a birthday, or a re-birthday, not an anniversary - because the first thing I saw when I woke up was my father and my husband at the foot of my bed, smiling the smiles of those who just got a thumbs up from a surgeon.
I often think of that moment and of my dad's jubilantly anxious grin, and I believe it was the exact same one he wore the day he heard "it's a girl" on March 28, 1966. My birthday. On July 12, 2005, I was reborn into my father's waiting arms.
The third is the day the "all clear" sirens sound and the non-stop needles and dread subside for a while. For me, that day was October 6, 2005, my sister's 46th birthday. Our mother died when she was 46, and so my sister was about to surpass my mother's lifespan - and I would resume catching up.
Five months later, my dad passed away from complications from a fairly routine surgery. It had something to do with his heart. Maybe it was too big, or too full. As daddy's little girl, I owned the twinkle in his eyes. I was his little star - maybe too often a comet - but his heart was the one thing I never wanted to break.
I was at his bedside when that heart beat for the last time. I know he knew I was there - that my hair was growing back a curly silvery gray, that my husband would take over responsibility for taking care of me, and that I was totally healthy - his healthy, baby girl - with arms waiting to hug him one last time.