National Cancer Survivors Day 2012, held this past Sunday, June 3, is a Celebration of Life held throughout the U.S, Canada and other participating countries. Survivors participate in an event to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive.
Who is a cancer survivor? Anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of their life.
My family and I celebrated by spending the day with several families at our annual Lakefest! We all had a great time playing with our kids, boating, swimming, hanging out, eating good BBQ and other scrumptious food thanks to our hosts. On NCSD 2011, I had just finished my chemo treatment after surgery so I just spent time at the lake taking it easy and watching everyone have fun. My what a difference a year makes!
Survivorship has meant even more to me this year. Watching my daughter graduate from elementary school and into middle school was extremely emotional for me. Over the last year, watching her transform from a young girl into a young woman has been amazing. Yes, my ‘tween daughter and I are already battling moments of “I know more than you,” rolling of the eyes, and “not too close to me when I’m around my friends” stuff. All the Justin Bieber fever and One Direction bubblegum pop songs are starting to get annoying, yet go with the territory. I know the next few years will have their challenges. But in the heat of the moment, I just have to remember to step back with added perspective. Two years ago, I didn’t think I would be here to see this.
Other milestones have rolled around this year that I could have lived without: the death of my father, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, the relapse of two of my appendix cancer buddies, the relapse of my best friend’s child with ALL leukemia and seeing the fall-out from the stress of my cancer experience begin to affect members of my family. All I can do in these situations is to be there for my friends and family like they have been and are still there for me.
Human connection. It matters. That is the true joy of survivorship.