Tomorrow marks the 23rd annual National Cancer Survivors Day, celebrated with events across the globe "to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive." No question, it's a wonderful day for cancer survivors to mark milestones and celebrate another day of living with their families and caregivers.
All that said, however, what truly inspires me these days are cancer survivors who just keep going despite their fears, living life every day without calling a whole lot of attention to themselves, except when they need help. You know the kind of folks I'm talking about: The ones who are just too busy living life to let cancer slow them down very much. Call it inner strength, perseverance or just plain ol' stubbornness, but these people have much to teach us, if we're willing to take a minute or two to pay attention.
Like Roger Tunsley who wrote about turning a corner, in the most recent issue of Coping with Cancer. A Stage III cancer survivor of esophageal cancer, Roger overcame his fears of remission so well that he almost forgot about his next regularly scheduled CAT scan appointment, after using them as many cancer patients do to remind him that his body was healthy and clear of cancer. His first-person account moved me with its simplicity and grace.
Or, a recent post from a new blog Change Is Possible written by a Phoenix woman named Heather who is a music teacher, certified personal trainer and a Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor. Lots of people tell Heather she's been a huge inspiration in their lives. No wonder, considering she can run a 5K in under 30 minutes and is training to be a triathlete. (Comparatively, I'd be very happy to complete an upcoming 5K walk in little more than an hour, so Heather is Wonder Woman to me.)
But Heather knows from experience what most people are really telling her is that they're impressed, but not truly inspired. "Inspiration, to me, incites movement, change, growth. If you are really wowed by someone or something but then you go back to your life as it always was, are you really inspired? I don’t think so."
When you're celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day with your family, have fun, but be on the lookout for life lessons that inspire you to take action. Some of them may be hiding in plain sight.
Coping with Cancer May/June 2010
Change Is Possible