The Healing Journal
Taking Control of Your Journey Through Cancer

Survivorship

So what is "survivorship"?  What does it mean to be a survivor?  Through my journey and the inspiration I've received from others, this is what I've learned:

  • It's about living life with a 'Never Give Up' attitude and finding strength in the deepest parts of your soul.
  • It's about embracing life - trying new things and doing what you love - your hobbies, interests and passions.
  • It's about keeping your sense of humor and laughing through the journey - sometimes even at yourself.
  • It's about acknowledging and facing your fears head on.
  • It's about analyzing your life and your priorities and deciding to give your time and attention only that which matters most.
  • It's about gratitude - for everyone on your medical team who helped you along the way:  doctors, nurses, technicians, dieticians, specialists, receptionists etc.
  • It's about love - for the family and friends who not only held your hand, dried your tears and gave you support throughout your treatment, but continue to be there for you each and every day!
  • It's being there for others in their times of need.  It's not always about you!
  • It's about getting on with your life and living it with passion, love, faith, enthusiasm and a positive attitude.
  • It's about a complete soulful understanding of how precious life is.
  • It's about not taking anyone or anything for granted and showing your appreciation to others for the roles that they play in your life.
  • It's about being inspired by others and using your journey, your story and your passion to inspire others.
  • It's about finding a way to give back - volunteering, participating and supporting all the cancer related efforts in your community.
  • It's about education - an education you didn't ask for but one you must now use to put yourself first, to concentrate on healing today and everyday.



I'm often asked at which point does one switch from being a fighter to a survivor.  In my opinion the two are not mutually exclusive.  In my opinion one starts being a survivor the second they make the decision that they want to fight and embrace the journey with everything they have.  So if I have to pick one thing, a trait that is common to those who are true survivors I would have to say its ATTITUDE.  Charles
Swindoll once said that “….life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it….”  AMEN!!!!!  There is not one situation in life for which this is not true.  Facing a life threatening illness or being in remission from an incurable disease are no different.  

Here is a personal example, the night of my first chemo, as I lay in bed in my parent’s home I felt the expected side effects such as nausea, weakness, dizziness and fatigue.

But I also experienced the strangest sensations of popping, exploding pains throughout my body, and what  I can only describe as how it might feel to swallow poison.  I could almost feel the chemo making its way into every cell of my body and I decided right then that it was not to be feared because it was doing what it was supposed to do, it was healing.  From that moment on I called it my “Healing Juice” and although I hated the side effects, I welcomed the chemo.   That was my first moment of survivorship.

I made a choice early on that I could feel sorry for myself, put my head in the sand and wait to  die,   or I could hold my head high, summon the courage that was deep in my soul and fight like heck to survive.  I chose, and I still choose to NEVER GIVE UP.    I fill my days and my heart.  I exercise, eat right, do the things I love, try new things and literally take the time to just breathe and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.  I laugh, mainly at myself, and truly absorb and enjoy time with my friends and my family.  I am a full and active participant in my own life.  I am a survivor, and I’m thriving!                                             


      NEVER GIVE UP  © Tony Harmer 


Survivors who inspire me:

Every child battling cancer:  their bright smiles, infectious laughter and positive attitudes can teach us adults more than a thing or two!

Every celebrity survivor who uses their fame to raise awareness and money to fund research and help others.

Every patient who even in the face of fear and set backs, summons courage and strength and keeps going one day at a time.

Every person who has ever taken their illness and turned it into a way to educate and support others:

  • Kris Carr:  She turned her diagnosis into the 'Crazy Sexy Wellness Revolution.
  • Kelly Teegarden:  She turned her diagnosis into a line of healthy organic cosmetics.
  • Nicki Serquinia:  She turned her diagnosis into a line of hats, scarves and more to help patients cope with hair loss.
  • Diem Brown:  She turned her diagnosis into a social networking community dedicated to supporting patients and their loved ones during a health crisis


A couple of years back I heard a speech where the presenter called it “thrivorship”.  Love that!  Again, it’s all about attitude.  How do you want your survivorship to look?  What are you doing to thrive?.   As my father always says, “you only go around once, make it count.” 
My advice, live your best life, no matter how long that is.  It's a gift you'll be giving to yourself and your loved ones.

    

 

 














With Anita Cochrane at the Weekend to End Women's                              With my husband Ross and our good friends Bertrand and
Cancers in 2008.                                                                                   Thérèse  Lacroix
at the Relay for Life in 2007.

                                                                                                                                             

"With Organization Comes Empowerment"  ~ Lynda Peterson


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