Its a beautiful day and many are out fishing, gardening, laying by the pool and just enjoying being outside after being cooped up inside from all the rain this week.
But in addition to all those things, today is a very special day!
Today is National Cancer Survivors Day!!!
Today is about showing the world what life is like after cancer. That it can be fully lived. Fully embraced and fully celebrated!
Survivorship is a term many struggle with. Guilt is often a plaguing feeling that many experience post treatment. They wonder "why me" and question what this "new normal" supposed to look like. As treatments and quality of life both improve, the concept of "life after cancer" has grown. Now, people who are diagnosed younger are living longer and new studies are being conducted on the long term effects of chemo drugs and radiation therapy.
For many cancer is now a "bump in the road". Its something to get through, but more importantly is something to live beyond.
Working for the American Cancer Society and being in the business of creating survivors, I often find myself forgetting that I fall into that category. I like to take care of survivors and their caregivers. I like to treat them like VIPs and I like to make sure they get the honor they deserve. I've really worked hard in my life to make sure that I don't let "survivor" be a label that holds me back.
Its pretty easy to let a label define you. Labels bring expectations; both internal and external. If you let yourself get down, you will. If you let yourself be held back, you will. But, if you tell yourself you are stronger, you are. If you tell yourself you can make it through, you can.
More than once this Relay season, I've watched a group of survivors take a track and lead out walking in pace to Mandisa's Overcomer. Its the perfect song for the opening lap of a Relay For Life event, but its also the perfect song for life.
We all have things to overcome and while this song has somehow become synonymous with the cancer journey, let me challenge you to consider life beyond - beyond divorce, beyond loosing someone, beyond moving away, beyond starting kindergarten, beyond graduation, beyond sleepless nights with a new baby, beyond struggles with infertility, beyond building a new home, beyond starting a new job, beyond Mondays and beyond Hump Days.
Life on the other side is pretty fun!