Geri’s story especially spoke to me because of the way that she chose to channel her ordeal into doing something for fellow breast cancer survivors. As it states in the article,
So she found a way to give back, creating small cloth dolls called “Wish and Worry Angels.” They’re designed to bring comfort to those in need — the idea is to let the angel take care of your troubles — and Moran has given away hundreds over the years.
As Lance Armstrong’s oncologist, Craig Nichols, put it, there is an “obligation of the cured.” This “rule” that Nichols told Armstrong he had to fulfill is, for many of us, more of a drive that builds during treatment. When you make it to the “other side,” you feel the need to grab as many others’ hands as you can who are also fighting the disease and take them with you. Whether that’s by riding your bike to show that you’ll suffer along with them, making dolls to give others to help them through their day, making sure to spread the word about the importance of mammograms, as Arnold Roufa does, shaving your head in solidarity, wearing bandana as Sue Anderson’s friends did for her, or starting foundations, we feel the need to give back. We need to give back.
What are ways that you might be inspired to give back? How else have you, as a survivor, given back? Do you feel a sense of obligation?
You’re “cured.” Now what?
This is a big part of what we at LIVESTRONG think about – survivorship. What it means to cross that threshold back to normalcy, what it means, and what’s next. Yes, there is the giving back. But a lot of us explore what we were doing with our lives before the cancer, and if we want to continue the same route after.
For Geri, it meant quitting her full-time job and becoming self-employed. Interestingly, for Ted Brown, that meant that he had the chance to realize he enjoyed what he was doing, and stuck with his original career.
For others, it means trying things they’ve always dreamed of doing – attacking the “Bucket List.” I have a friend who has done this to the nth degree, and I hope to follow in his footsteps with the likes of organizations like First Descents – an organization that sends young adult cancer fighters on outdoor adventures.
What’s a “Cancerversary?” It’s the anniversary of the date you received your diagnosis. Why commemorate it? It’s the day that changed your life, for better for good. For some, it was the leap off the diving board. For others, the day the wall was built. Either way, it’s an important day for many of us – to reflect on how far we’ve come, to keep us motivated, to take a moment to curse cancer and wish it to hell, or it may just be any other day, just with a strange twinge of “something happened on this day,” like Arnold Roufa.
But I’ve been finding that I have not met a single cancer fighter that doesn’t remember their cancerversary, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer for sicker and in health.