Celebrating Cancer Survivor Month

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Because It Needs to Celebrated

The dictionary defines survivor as “a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.” You are a survivor from the moment you are diagnosed. Every personal cancer experience is unique and so incomparably hard.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Feb. 4, 2020.  I didn’t feel like a survivor at that moment, before or after surgery, or during treatment. I, for sure, don't think I was coping well. In fact, it took me a while to pull it together. And I don’t mean “a few hours.” I mean several months. Several CT scans and surgeries later, I am cancer free.

Then two years later, when I finally felt mostly over the trauma of my cancer diagnosis – because you never are fully over the trauma – my brother and I had to tell my mom that she had cancer. The flood of emotions came back, and our whole family was impacted physically, emotionally, spirituality, and socially.  

As a family, cancer impacted us physically, emotionally, and socially. We all had moments where we fought hard to move past the fear of cancer because we all knew we had to keep moving forward. Some days we felt like we were stuck in tire ruts and spinning. But it was OK. We may not have moved forward those days, but we sure didn’t go backward. Some days, it’s OK to stay where you are.

Cancer Survivorship and Never Losing Hope

Moving forward after a cancer diagnosis is a process: Every day, every month, and every year is different with fears you didn’t have before the diagnosis, but now you wake up to every day. But I am determined to redefine my own story of hope as a patient and caregiver. There is a saying in Tibet, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” No matter what sort of difficulties we endure, or how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster. Part of living as a cancer survivor is never losing hope.

Currently, my goal is to reach five years cancer free. Until then, I am going to enjoy all the colors of life and embrace all of it – even its flaws. It's my choice every day to hold on to hope, because what I have learned is that hope is the gift you create for yourself. Hope is the tenacity and the relentlessness within yourself that keeps you fighting. Hope pushes you on. Some days, when I don’t want to get out of bed, hope tells me I have to keep going. Two years ago, I found a tiny seed of hope, and shared it with my family. That seed has been nurtured by the love and support of friends, fellow survivors, and family. It takes time, and it takes a community to thrive. That is the miracle of hope.

For some, you may be in the throes of resistance and striving for recovery. You may be disgusted, discouraged, and frustrated. You may be furious because you don’t want to be strong and you don’t want to fight, and it’s not fair that this battle is even your battle. It’s not easy; and it’s not the same for everyone. But when you take a breath, and you realize and acknowledge that this is how it is, you can choose to find that seed of hope – and it may feel buried, but I assure you, it is in you – and share it with the people who support and love you. It takes dedication and work to nurture that seed of hope. Some days that seed of hope may be getting out of bed and starting your day. Sharing a smile with someone during chemo may give them hope they desperately needed that day. Telling your story to a fellow survivor and giving each other a hug may provide hope to someone when they need it most and remind you to keep moving forward.

As cancer survivors and as caregivers, we share a bond. We all know what it’s like to look into the eyes of someone who is relentless and never gave up, and feel the gratitude of the power of hope. 

Celebrate this month with your people – your tribe – your family and your community. Never lose hope and never forget that you inspire us to keep going. 

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Cancer Survivor Month

  1. Was going into my last treatment couldn’t do it blood plate was low then have to have tube replacement but I’m doing find can’t complain god got me here still and I’m great full for that,Nikkiewright35@yahoo.com

    1. Hi Nikkie, You are not alone. No one fights alone! Thank you for sharing your gratitude! We are also grateful you are here!

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