For a Survivor, Every Day is Survivor Day

National Cancer Survivors Day
National Cancer Survivors Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With today being National Cancer Survivor Day, I have been thinking about the definition of the word ‘survive’.

SURVIVE (verb):

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!


7 thoughts on “For a Survivor, Every Day is Survivor Day

  1. Andy, you are an inspiration to all of us…to keep on fighting for the causes we believe in and to fight with all our hearts and our whole lives. I look forward to being with your sister-in-law Kathleen this week. Wish I was welcoming you to MN as well. Much love, Catherine

  2. I prefer the word “survivor” to “victim.” To me the word “victim” implies “dead” as in “victim of genocide.” The word “survivor” to me implies a kind of triumph – something horrific happened to you but somehow you managed to make it through and emerge alive. While so many of us, especially in those of us who live our little lives such incredible luxury we take it for granted, it is so easy to forget that life is finite and every breath could be our last. We get frustrated on such mundane things as not getting a parking spot or the mail being late or not being able to get a cell phone signal or forgetting to program the DVR to record the game. I wonder sometimes if part of what it means to be a survivor is to know from first-hand experience that this life is a gift, that each moment we have is an opportunity, that time is the most precious of commodities which, like health, can be taken away at any time. I wonder sometimes if the challenge of this knowledge is to enjoy the freedom to let life get bigger in its infinite wonder of possibility, rather than get daunted by the sheer weight of knowing above each and every one of us hangs a Sword of Damocles that one day, one moment, will fall. But maybe not now, and maybe not today, so embrace and be happy in this moment you are free . . . What do you think?

    1. Shondra – what an amazing response… I think you got it. I just don’t get frustrated or annoyed as easily as I used to about things – although I do still hate to lose or misplace things. Life is a gift – LIVE IT!
      Best to you and your family! Love from Maryland!

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