It was noon before I realized that today is National Cancer Survivors Day and I thought I might want to take my fingers to the keyboard to hammer out some thoughts, reflections, hopes for the future.
I have officially lived 40 years beyond what my parents were told to expect; they were told 6 months at the most, and likely less. Ewing’s sarcoma is a beast that still needs to be slain, once and for all.
Yes, I’ve encountered health challenges that are late effects of my cancer treatment: who hasn’t?! The question is how profoundly do these late effects impact your daily life, your quality of life.
I have more good days than bad days by far; however, I could not have said that 6 weeks ago as I struggled against a ‘104.7F-decreased oxygen levels-bone break body aches’ kind of sick. I had pneumonia throughout the lobes of my left AND right lungs which is problematic for someone who depends on one partially functioning lung. Those 2 weeks were wretched; the bad temporarily outweighed the good.
Finally, my fever began to trend downward towards normal, the antibiotics were coming to a close, and the tenacious cough subsided. Over the past month, I have ever so slowly increased my number of steps per day, the number of trips up the stairs, the frequency of errands while decreasing the number and length of my naps,
THIS week, I am back; I did not cancel a single commitment on my calendar. I spent time with my husband and our son; I had lunch with a dear friend and her daughters after pedicures, of course. I got back on my house cleaning schedule which is loosey-goosey at best. Last evening, our son and I took the dog for a walk. Folks, that was my second walk in the neighborhood [and] the first one was Memorial Day.
Make no mistake despite the late effects I’ve encountered, my life is good; the quality of my life is good. Yes, I have bad days, sick days, discouraging day, and some really dark days. They come part and parcel with survivor life as we know it on June 2, 2019.
We, the affected and those who love us, all want a cure, a personalized cure, a cure for all; targeted treatments that harness the power one’s immune system to go after malignant cells while sparing normal cells, tissues, and organs along the way.
We’re not there yet, but let’s celebrate anyway: anything and everything. We may not be out of the woods ever, but damn, we’ve run one hell of a marathon thus far. Keep going; I am right alongside you, my fellow travelers.
Lastly, awareness and national days for whatever the cause are merely symbolic if individuals do not take action that advances the cause, in this case, precision research & development leading to clinical trials that will transform the lives of future survivors.
Let’s act not only on behalf of ourselves but also for those who are already coming behind.
Find a local pediatric, adolescent, or young adult oncology program who needs volunteers; organize a fundraiser ensuring that all the funds go to clinical research.
But, let’s not forget to send a handwritten note of encouragement, provide a meal on a treatment day, stay in on a Friday night for popcorn and a movie, or pack a picnic for the parents while you stay and play with their child.
There you have it my 2 cents, the thoughts of my heart-mind, heart-soul; JOY in your day, friends!