Cancer Lesson #81: I am hope.
When I did the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life a few weeks ago, I didn’t introduce myself with the rest of the survivors. This year, it felt a little too self-congratulatory, celebrating a result over which I had minimal control.
My mind began to shift, however, when the “Honorary Survivors” spoke. The “Junior Honorary Survivor,” who was about fourteen, talked about how she understands there are some things you can change and some you can’t. She said how important it was to focus on what we can do, instead of worrying about what we can’t, which I thought was very wise for one so young.
The adult spokesperson was a theirteen-year survivor of pancreatic cancer. This is almost a miracle, and that fact alone made me begin to think a little differently. (The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research quotes the American Cancer Society as giving an average five-year survival rate of about 6%.)
My perspective began to change that day, but the lightbulb moment came when I was folding a load of laundry earlier this week.
I am hope. I am hope. I am hope.
On t-shirt after t-shirt, the message stared up at me.
I am hope.
Not because I did anything special. And certainly not because I deserve it more than those who are gone. But just as my friends’ deaths were beyond my control, I also don’t want to change the fact that I’m still here.
It’s time to focus on what I can control , to consider what I can try to be for others.
A beam of light to those who are beginning treatment.
A voice of — if not reason — then at least perspective on what the future might look like.
I am the hope, that five years after surgery and chemo, you can still ride a bike, play soccer as badly as you did before, enjoy your family and loved ones.
I am the hope that, like me, you might take a little extra time to appreciate the beauty of our world — the green of the trees, the glimmer of sun on water, and yes, even the raucous cacophony of cicadas.
I am the hope that you will survive to become hope too.
And I am the hope that we will always remember those who didn’t.
Namaste, Pat, Dale, Maribeth, and everyone else who is no longer with us.
The light within me salutes the light within you, the light that lingers on in those you loved.