August 24 ~  Surviving Cancer Cancer Schmancer

"Getting cancer can become the beginning of living. The search for one's own being, the discovery of the life one needs to live, can be one of the strongest weapons against disease." ~ Lawrence Leshan

When cancer touches your life, you are never the same...

I know the disease well. I took care of my beautiful, young mother as she died of pancreatic cancer. A few years later, her sister and her mother also died of the disease.

"Cancer is not for sissies," observed actress Suzanne Somers, a breast cancer fighter.

Watching cancer suck the life from someone you love is torture: the doctors' visits, surgeries, testing, blood work, treatment, decline, and sorrow. Hopeful vigils mixed with feelings of helplessness. Corridors of frustration, fear, and rage.

"Sorrow," said singer Joni Mitchell, "is so easy to express and yet so hard to tell."

Then it was my turn.

On a sunny Hawaiian February day, a particularly aggressive tumor in my uterus was diagnosed to be leiomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer. After its removal, my first oncologist gave me a two-in-10 chance of surviving six months. That was over 12 years ago. My faith, family, and friends helped me cope with the treatment and side effects. The hair loss, nausea, and fatigue. The hope, determination, and survival.

"In Chinese, there is no word for crisis," explained cancer survivor John Mann. "The word that comes closest consists of two symbols. One for danger, the other for opportunity."

Today is my birthday. Another year, cancer-free. Another year to count my blessings and thank every person who helped me to get to this place, this time in my life. Now more that ever, I believe that each birthday, each day, IS a celebration.

My heart sings with happiness because I am so lucky to be able to write this sentence: When cancer touches your life, you are never the same...

Life is a celebration of passionate colors.