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Never too Late To Join One Million Strong – Danielle’s Thoughts

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I tend to run fashionably late. Meetings, appointments, even conference calls – I struggle to arrive or call-in right on time. This floods into emotional things too – it takes awhile for reality to “sink in” for me. For me to process a moving and emotional experience, and understand what it meant for my life.

So – it’s fitting that almost two weeks after our NYC kickoff of One Million Strong – I’m just now able to put to words what the experience meant to me.

Or at least try to.advocate-nyc

I’m still pinching myself that I get to work with the amazing staff and advocates at Fight Colorectal Cancer and “give back” to this cause each day. My journey of survivorship was lonely at the beginning – I didn’t know many others who had survived. I didn’t hear anyone talking about the disease. I felt so abnormal. Sometimes, even guilty for having survived when others didn’t.

But joining the family at Fight Colorectal Cancer has changed a lot for me. Being part of a national movement, One Million Strong, means that I am talking about the disease – daily – and connecting with others in the fight. I’m part of a group that marches down crowded streets with “butt” props in the air. I’m freely talking about my cancer experience on the Today Show. I’m locking arms with people in this community and telling my story, as well as the million other stories of people who’ve also lived through this disease. I’m working day-in and day-out with amazing advocates who’ve sacrificed so much for this cause, and who will not rest until our vision – victory over colorectal cancer – is achieved.

danielle-burgess-carmen-marc-valvoI can’t explain the feeling of watching country music star Craig Campbell proudly sport our t-shirt on national TV because this disease touched him so deeply, too, as he lost his daddy at an early age. Or being able to wear a fancy cocktail dress courtesy of Carmen Marc Valvo, another survivor, who’s found great success as a fashion designer. Or holding my phone as our Twitter and Facebook pages “blew up” on Monday as notable celebs like Katie Couric and Carson Daly, as well as the American Cancer Society, supported and promoted our event. To see the engagement of those in the NYC community, as well as the millions of others who went online to support One Million Strong during our kickoff – was truly amazing.

I shake my head that not too long ago I felt lonely. On Monday, I really realized that if you’ve been touched by colorectal cancer – you’re not alone. Not at all.

There are some of us joining One Million Strong because we survived or are danielle-mike-burgesscurrently in the fight. Others, like my husband Mike, get involved because as a caregiver, he’s got skin in the game too. Several friends and family members are joining this movement, realizing that their simple support means the world to their survivor friend.

And yet many others join us because their loved ones didn’t survive the disease. It’s their strength that humbles me and motivates me to keep fighting and building this community. We all come from different angles yet we have the same message.

Yes, we want to raise awareness and eliminate colorectal cancer altogether.

While we pursue that goal, I’ve realized that it’s the strength of us sticking together that will get us through. Regardless of if we’re early … or late … to join this cause.

Join One Million Strong Now.

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