I cry because I am a living example of what it means to have less cancer and more birthdays: 24 more birthdays to be exact!
It's hard to believe it's been over 23 years since I heard the words, "You have leukemia." It's hard to believe it's been 18 years since I passed the 5 year mark and my cancer was considered "cured." Plus this past year I hit another milestone: I have lived more of my life as a cancer survivor than I have lived before my cancer diagnosis. Now that is pretty remarkable.
I am also crying because, right off the top of my head, I know of four wonderful people whose lives are being impacted by a cancer diagnosis today.
One is a girlfriend with lung cancer, who is benefiting from an amazing breakthrough drug called crizotinib (Xalkori). This drug is a true miracle for a small number of lung cancer patients, stopping cancer in its tracks and allowing patients to live with lung cancer as a chronic, but manageable, illness. As often as I can, I send her greeting cards filled with words of encouragement, hope and support, just like someone did for me when I was going through my cancer treatment.
The second is a brave young woman with recurrent breast cancer. We "met" through a mutual friend on Facebook and she blogs over at Starting Over: My Journey with Cancer. Not a day goes by that I don't send a silent prayer her way hoping that she gets to celebrate 23 birthdays past her cancer diagnosis like I have.
The third is a mature female friend who was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She talked to me before her surgery and I gave her my "If I can beat this, you can beat this too." pep talk. Thank goodness the surgery was successful in removed all the cancerous cells. Two years later she is doing well and still cancer-free. Being over 50, regular mammography was instrumental in catching her cancer early.
Finally, I just learned yesterday that one of my aunts is in hospice care, dying from advanced lung cancer. Her husband, my dad's brother, died a few years back from lung cancer. Their tragedy involves cigarette smoking, which causes approximately 443,000 deaths each year, 49,400 of those from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Then there are all the people I have known who have lost their battles with cancer and are no longer here with me today. I hold them with fond memories and great care in my heart, always. Among them is my mother, who died from advanced colon cancer at the age of 61 in 1999.
Watch this video to learn more about all the ways that the American Cancer Society helps to prevent cancer, fund reasearch and support patients going through treatment.
This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
I ask that you please keep them in mind when making your end-of-year charitable donations.