What Cancer Survivor Day Means to Me
Last updated: June 2023
A person living with cancer can be considered a cancer survivor.
When diagnosed with blood cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010, I was overwhelmed and did not think I would survive. Fortunately, I sought help and information and began to have a more optimistic outlook.
I am a survivor
Today after receiving treatment with chemotherapy and maintenance therapy with a monoclonal antibody, I am in remission. There were bumps in the road as I was hospitalized twice with reactions to chemotherapy. Additionally, I experienced extreme fatigue, necessitating my leave of absence from my nursing teaching position.
Learning to focus on what matters
Prayers are powerful in several ways. First, my blood cancer is in remission due to the effective chemotherapeutic agent suggested by my oncologist. Secondly, I have learned to appreciate every moment and truly be grateful for the important things that matter in life.
Before becoming a cancer survivor, my focus was on work and other things that, in retrospect, really did not matter. Today I now recognize the most important aspects of life: family, friends, and faith. My family provided tremendous love and support during my cancer journey. My friends encouraged me to safely return to my teaching profession and offered help when needed. The most important factor has been the growth of my faith and the strength it has provided. I learned to focus on the important things in life and “not to sweat the small stuff”.
Another cancer diagnosis in the family
This year my life as a cancer survivor has been challenged again with the lung cancer diagnosis of my husband. The coping skills I learned have been successful as I support the love of my life.
Helping others survive, too
Today we are both cancer survivors and will enjoy Cancer Survivors’ Day in early June. Our focus now is learning to help others. We volunteer at our local hospital, and I am a First Connection contact for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Such help is a rewarding experience for both of us.
The importance of healthy living
As a cancer survivor, one must realize the importance of healthy living. Focus on a balanced diet, exercise, check-ups, and physical exams. Be sure to schedule diagnostics such as a mammogram and a colonoscopy.
Become an advocate for other cancer survivors. The activities may include finding an organization where you can volunteer and participate in fund raising activities. We need advocates to address the high cost of drugs and explore financial resources for patients.
Living life after cancer
Life after cancer can be a reality. I still experience scans-xiety before my scheduled diagnostic CT scan.
Surround yourself with positive people. My husband is the most positive person who provides comfort. When anxious try to remember positive things. Focus on a bucket list of things or activities you would like to experience. My CT scan was yesterday, and I hope to schedule a trip to the Holy Land, which has been top on my bucket list.
Research for early diagnostics and more effective therapies continue to be developed. Each survivor can benefit from being current and aware of all therapies, discussing such with your physician and living each day to the fullest.
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?