June 9, 2009


Recently, I participated in one of the American Cancer Society's Relays for Life. My mom and I have been walking together in the event since before my cancer; last year we walked in it while I was continuing to battle cancer. This year, I walked as a survivor.

It's only been recently that I have begun to refer to myself as a cancer survivor. Last year, after I had finished chemotherapy and before we found the new spot of cancer in a lymph node, I attended a series of workshops on the topic of cancer survivorship. I enjoyed meeting the other participants; I learned a lot about life after a cancer diagnosis; but I just couldn't think of myself as a survivor.

Then, I thought pretty narrowly about what it means to survive. It seemed like victims who live after a plane crash can be called survivors because there is no longer any threat that the plane crash will take their lives. But as for cancer, I still feel threatened by it. Until I die of something else, I didn't feel I could be called a cancer survivor.

But over time, something started to happen that changed my mind. I went on living despite my cancer. I didn't live as if it didn't happen; I just figured out how to live now that it has. It's true that if I want to go on living then I am not free from the threat of cancer. (Just like a plane crash survivor is always at risk of another crash if she decides to go on flying.) But even though I am threatened by it, I don't have to submit to it. For me, being a cancer survivor means living a better life because of cancer.

Every time I continue to be active though my surgery scars ache, every time I submit my arms to multiple needle sticks for blood draws and CT scan dye, every time I lay my head on the pillow and sleep while I am anxiously awaiting test results, every time I dig deep and try to encourage someone else with cancer, even though I'd rather avoid the topic altogether, every time I make plans for the future even though the future still feels uncertain, every time I write "cancer" on my list of thank you's to Jesus, I am surviving cancer.

I am a survivor.


Speaking of surviving, I have received lots of good news over the past couple of weeks. My tumor marker came back normal a couple of weeks back, and I just received the results of a CT scan yesterday. Everything looks completely normal there, too. As far as I'm concerned, normal is the new exciting. I'll take normal any day of the week!


Jennifer said...

Wow. Another great post. I've been peeking in now and then ... hoping to see another story here on Wide Open Spaces. Thank you for sharing this.

Lise said...

Normal is a beautiful word to hear. Yay, God! Thanks for letting us know how your test results came out.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking at your blog every now and then...glad to hear your good news. Love, Chrisy H.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...


Glad to find you boasting of Survival. It's been a while since I've been by due to health issues that I survived, and the lack of internet access at home. In the past 5 weeks I finally feel like I'm getting "me" back. It feels good to feel good, and all glory be unto God.

You keep pressing on. You are inspiring.

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