belle-piazza OMSHow do YOU define One Million Strong? I define one million strong beyond the survivors themselves, making it more like Ten Million Strong.  Cancer affects everyone.  The patient, the caregiver, the family, the friends, the community.  I can’t imagine going through my cancer journey alone.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  I say it takes a community to support a survivor.  My community base is my immediate family, my husband and my children.  But it extends so far beyond my core base.  My community celebrates my victories and is there to catch me when I fall.  I may be the one directly affected, but indirectly, my disease touches many. Where have you drawn strength? Colorectal cancer is a particularly ugly disease.  Many of us end up with ostomy’s.  Chemo and steroids can cause weight gain.  Some chemo’s cause hair to thin or sometimes fall out completely.  Others cause a horrible acne rash.  I’ve had so many surgeries related to cancer.  I tell people if all my surgeries had been for cosmetic reasons I’d look like Jennifer Aniston by now.   And don’t even get me started on all the poop problems colorectal cancer patients live with.   I’ve had all of these things happen to me.  And through it all, my husband loves me unconditionally.  When my husband took his wedding vows “for better or for worse”, he meant it.  And I see that every day. Who is your champion? My champion, Pat Steer, lost her 8 year battle with Colorectal Cancer earlier this year.  Pat was a no nonsense fighter, advocate, researcher and all around wonderful person.  When my recurrence was confirmed shortly before Christmas in 2010, it was Pat that helped me get my head around my situation and helped me with my strategic plan on how to move forward.  She is the reason I got involved with Fight Colorectal Cancer.  A dozen times since her passing I’ve wondered “what would Pat do?” in a particular situation.  I miss her terribly and she will always be my champion. What is one piece of advice you would like to share with others? A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming.  Be patient with yourself.  Give yourself time to feel whatever you need to feel.   Anger, depression, fear.   Remind yourself you won’t feel that way forever.  When taking one day at a time is too much, then take one hour at a time.  If one hour at a time is too much, take one minute at a time.  Don’t ever feel you have to go through this alone.  Connect with other survivors.  Connect with friends and family.  Different people fill different needs.  And when you’re ready, and you will be ready, reach out to help others.  You will be helping yourself in the process. I AM a Mother, a Wife, an Advocate, an Organic Gardener, a Cook, a Wine Lover, a Friend.  I AM a SURVIVOR. I AM STRONG! Want to share your story? Submit yours today!