Tuesday, February 4th is World Cancer Day. This day is a global observance that helps raise people’s awareness of cancer and how to prevent, detect or treat it. This year’s theme is “Together it is possible.” It is a tribute in recognizing the resilience and hope in the minds of all cancer survivors who have faced enormous trauma and mental conflict in their war against the question of life and death. The theme, “together it is possible” has a literal meaning with the hope of the entire world joining forces to fight cancer. This is a dream and a hope that we all share. But, I also think of the theme as survivors joining forces to get each other through the trauma and mental conflict. I have always been amazed by the resilience and ingenuity that cancer survivors invoke in order to cope with their illness. We do it through formal support groups, blogging, sharing resources, supportive and informative web sites. And, as it is World Cancer Day tomorrow, the empowering story I want to share with you is not about a woman with breast cancer. This woman’s coping mechanism throughout her diagnosis of colon cancer and on-going treatment has been inspiring. Her faith and spirit are strong, although her body is very weak at the moment from having gone through eight of her ten chemo treatments following surgery to remove her tumor.
She is my daughter-in-law’s cousin and she moved across the country with her husband to start a new life in a new state, leaving behind all her family and old childhood friends. When she learned that she might have cancer, she began posting on Facebook expressing her fears and concerns. Throughout her diagnosis, surgery, and treatment so far, she has chronicled her journey on Facebook as one would keep a daily journal. Through Facebook, her family and friends have been with her every step of the way every day offering her support, empathy, advice, and most importantly love. Where there is a will, there is a way. She has taken pictures of her port (which she named Portia) and her pump and fanny pack that delivers her chemo (which she has named Pumpetta) and has posted them on Facebook. You can tell from the naming of her port and infusion method what a great sense of humor she has and how she has used that humor to help her cope.
She has taken advantage of modern technology chronicling her journey. It takes great courage to reach out and share one’s hopes and fears on a social networking site. She still has a journey ahead of her, but I know that through the support of her husband and on-line “journaling,” she will persevere.
On this World Cancer Day I want to honor my mother and all the women (and men) who went before us fighting this disease, paving the way with evolving treatments. February 4th is a time when organizations and individuals around the world send a message. Ending cancer should be a global health priority. Around the world, communities will hold festivals, walks, seminars, public information campaigns and other events to raise awareness and educate people on how to fight cancer through screening and early detection, through healthy eating and physical activity, by quitting smoking and by urging public officials to make cancer issues a priority. Blessings to all and Amen.