My summer was crazy but in the midst of my travels that I am beyond thankful for, myself and a fellow survivor Julie started a non-profit called Pink Warrior Angels. I am going to save the introduction of Pink Warrior Angels and what our mission is for another post - promised not to be months from now. This post is coming with a purpose and one that I feel is pretty important.
Last week, I attended an event for a local breast cancer survivor battling stage 4. Her life has been quite the journey. After losing her husband, she was left a widow/mother to 2 boys. She was then diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Last week, we held a benefit for her and I was given the amazing honor of helping to plan special little moments for the event. A moment from this night stood out to me and it hasn’t left my mind since.
I presented a little scrapbook for her filled with bald photos, stories of survivors, and words of encouragement from each woman. When I gave her the book - she opened it and above her photo - it read “Survivor”. She immediately noticed it and said “Well I am not a survivor yet”. As much as my heart broke in that moment for her, I had to gather myself together to let her know that she IS A SURVIVOR.
Everyones interpretation of when you become a survivor is different, I understand that. But this is my blog, and while I welcome your thoughts and opinions…I want to share my very strong opinion with you regarding this topic. For those that question or are waiting for that day to call yourself a “survivor”….this is for you.
If you are reading this….YOU ARE A SURVIVOR! You are ALIVE!!! You might very well have cancer, but you are not dying of cancer and do not let yourself believe that you are. You are surviving cancer. You are fighting and at times it may feel like you are losing but you are ALIVE. Believe that are going to beat this, that you are going to win, and that you will, in fact, survive this challenge in your life. In my opinion, you became a cancer survivor the day you were diagnosed. No one told you were going to die that day. You lived to the next day didn’t you? You have lived this long haven’t you? Whether its a week, 3 months, or 10 years - you are still very much alive if you are reading this blog.
Here is your proof….
Definition of a survivor:
: to remain alive : to continue to live
: to continue to exist
: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.
I did not make that up. That is in the dictionary and according to Mr. Webster - YOU ARE A SURVIVOR.
I have been cancer free since April 1, 2014 but I have been a survivor since November 7, 2013. No one ever diagnosed me with cancer and told me I was dead. I know that might sound blunt….but its true and I have to imagine its true for you too regardless of your stage. I truly believe that cancer teaches us to truly live our lives to their fullest. I believe it instills an appreciation inside of us- one that most people will never understand. To be perfectly honest with you, I believe the day we are diagnosed with cancer, is the day we truly started to live. Yes that day was scary…but once that initial shock was over…life started to mean so much more. Life is a privilege and most people don’t understand that. We have learned to cherish the littlest of moments in our lives…ones that most people take for grant it. The moments with our kids, the moments we travel, the moments of a simple nap, the seasons changing, and something so simple as the rain falling on your hands. To me, THAT is living. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR!!!! YOU ARE A FIGHTER!!!! We all are!!! We have been handed this super shitty card in life….but we are all living out whatever days we have left with more appreciation and hope and strength than we ever did before. We are the ones that are truly living, the ones that are truly SURVIVING. If I have to thank cancer for one thing…it is for teaching me how to live a full life.
To my friend,
This is for you. Believe that this life has incredible things in store for you going forward. Your smile through the pain inspires me more than you could ever possibly know. I will never pretend to fully understand all of your pain but I do understand the cancer side of it. I understand the fears. I understand what its like to hide behind the pain and to put on that smile for everyone to see. And that smile of yours….its beautiful. You are beautiful. You are a beautiful woman, a beautiful mother, and you have a beautiful soul. You have a purpose. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself and what that purpose is. A friend of mine sent this to me during my treatment…”Put your hand over your heart. Feel that? Thats called purpose. You are here for a reason….dont give up”. Survive. Keep on surviving because that's exactly what you are - a survivor, a fighter, a warrior. Your spirit is very much alive and I see it when you speak. By all means, cry. Scream. Throw your pillows at the wall and ask WHY?!?!?! But I know one thing….you're not giving up and I know you won't ever give up. I hope you always know I am here if you ever need someone to bitch to who can relate to this super shitty cancer BS. Though our paths have only randomly crossed - know that you are a part of my heart now. We share something in common, my beautiful warrior. We are SURVIVORS!!! You, my beautiful warrior, are very much a SURVIVOR.
I'm going to leave you with this song. The words couldn't be more perfect. I am blessed and honored to have crossed paths with you. Your inspiration, your smile, your courage, your determination, your strength to show up at a benefit the day of treatment....you are incredible and I don't think you realize just how many lives you have touched. Mine included.