With today being National Cancer Survivor Day, I have been thinking about the definition of the word ‘survive’.
1: to remain alive or in existence : live on
2: to continue to function or prosper
I like the definitions that Webster’s Dictionary offers – ‘to live on’ and ‘to continue to prosper’. It is not enough to merely ‘remain alive’ or ‘function’. The goal of survivorship, especially for more than 12 million people in the USA, from every race, age, creed, religion, and gender, who are Cancer Survivors, is to LIVE ON, to prosper, and to continue to live their lives with goals, ambitions, and dreams.
I also believe that part of Cancer Survivorship includes helping those who are also trying to survive and to create awareness around the difficulties of living a life with cancer. This afternoon, I am spending time with fellow survivors at a special event at HopeWell Cancer Support. Yesterday, I spoke to Young Adult Survivors at a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society event here in Baltimore. And of course, I am continuing to fundraise for the cause of cancer research and treatment for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute via the Pan-Mass Challenge.
I take my cancer survivorship and the survivorship of others way too seriously for there to be a ‘day’. I think about surviving cancer every day. Cancer is part of my life every single day. I have written often about Life With Cancer. And trust me – no one really wants to be a Cancer Survivor – all of us would much rather have not gotten cancer in the first place! But once faced with it, surviving is the only consideration. It is not an option or a choice, it is the natural instinct – to fight and battle the scourge that is within, to rid your body of this horrible disease, until you can once again live and prosper.
I no longer consider myself lucky that I have survived cancer. The reason why I am still here is because hundreds of thousands of people have made contributions, scientific and monetary, and sacrifices towards cancer research, treatment, and support. I am forever grateful to those who have made these contributions and sacrifices. I am indebted to you have made these selfless acts of kindness. THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity to be a Survivor. I humbly share this day with you.
The easiest thing that I can ask you to do today is to reach out to someone that you know who is battling cancer AND to tell them that you are thinking of them, wanted to know how they are doing, and if they need anything. This small action will have a profound impact on that person’s life.
And now, I ask you in a very selfish way to add to the selflessness that has come before us by thinking of those that you know who have been forced into a Life With Cancer. I know that for me, the list is long. Some have sadly passed. Others are thriving and prospering. Even more are in the midst of their battles with their disease, looking for the treatment that will end their battle, in some cases, hoping against hope for a miracle. On this day when we celebrate Survivors, please make a donation to the PMC and Dana-Farber so that we may have more Survivors to celebrate and fewer tears to shed.
You can directly help the cause by making a donation to the PMC and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 100% of the money that you donate will go to provide Dana-Farber’s doctors and researchers the necessary resources to discover cures for all cancers. Thank you and Long Live the Survivors!