Today is National Cancer Survivors Day! Today we celebrate all of the many survivors of this wretched disease. I celebrate all of my friends and family who are survivors and yes, I am celebrating myself!
A survivor to me is anyone who has had the dreaded cancer diagnosis and is still living. Period. Whether you are still in treatment or newly in remission or many years from your diagnosis we are all survivors.
My call came 12 years ago on May 30th. I just passed that ‘milestone’ without even thinking about it! To me that is such a huge victory. The first few years, I would think about that day and that phone call and those words- “I have some tough news.” It was obviously not something I was celebrating as a milestone but it was an anniversary I could not forget. As time went on and it got further behind me, I was able to forget that date and the date of my surgery, which is coming up on June 12th. I like that the living of life, somewhat normally-my normal anyhow-lets milestone dates like those be forgotten.
I hope today, you can tell the ones in your life who are survivors-family, friends, acquaintances, just what they mean to you. We are so much more aware now that life is short. Sometimes we can forget it for a minute, as the years go by. But I am always aware, none more so, than when a friend or family member gets a diagnosis, or I hear about someone who has passed from it. I pray for the day that no one has to lose someone they love to cancer. Every day life can sometimes make us forget about just what our loved ones have gone through. So maybe, today, say hello, give your survivor a hug, let them know you are grateful for them. We can never forget our struggle, our fight and everything we went through. This one day of the year, maybe we should let them know that you haven’t forgotten, either!
A few years ago, I knew I wanted some kind of tattoo to show I was a survivor. But it had to be one without those words or dates, for some reason I had a superstition about putting that permanently on me. So, cliche as it was, we drew up a pink ribbon/butterfly tattoo. It showed I was a survivor combined with to me what was the symbol for life.
A few years ago, I started a book about my journey. I tried to make it a bit different than others I had seen. I took my public and private journals and combined them to tell my story. I wanted others to know what it might be like for their loved ones to go through the journey that is cancer. I was surprised and humbled about the comments I got from family members, about how now they understood. I loved the comment I got from a nurse that worked with mastectomy/cancer patients…she told me she would never ever look at them as ‘just a patient’ again. It made the struggle of writing it worth it. The writing was the easy part. The telling my story was the tough part. I kept getting stopped at the part when I had to tell my kids. Finally I was able to go on, finish my story and share it.
(It is still available at the link here in my blog.) I am still sharing my story to this day. I am grateful I could take something so hard and help even just one person.
Today. I celebrate. I celebrate ME! I celebrate YOU! I celebrate all SURVIVORS! I hope you will join me and celebrate the survivors in your life, today too..