I learned through social media that Sunday June 5th is National Cancer Survivors Day which reminded me of the motto Richard and I lived by after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011 -“We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Never Had Us.” Even in some of our most difficult days, we always stuck by our motto because it freed us from the burden of cancer. Sure, we were aware of the reality of the diagnosis, but the fact of the matter is, Richard outlived his original prognosis by more than two years. I’m confident that our motto kept us strong throughout the ordeal of dealing with his cancer diagnosis.
I started The Purple Jacket blog not to long after Richard was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the day the diagnoses came in quite well, “Mr. Schiffer has a massive growth where the esophagus and stomach attach” said the gastroenterologist. After beating prostrate cancer, two cardiac by-pass surgeries, Richard looked at me and said, “I guess this will be something that will eventually take me.” Richard was a realist, that was one of the many qualities I admired about him.
As I think about National Cancer Survivors day, I am reminded about the importance of caregivers sharing our stories with each other. Writing the blog helped me and Richard cope with the diagnosis. Our story in the Sun-Sentinel, In Sickness and In Health: A Couples Final Journey had a major impact on the importance of sharing ones story. I encourage everyone, as they feel comfortable, to share as much of their caregiving story as they possibility can. Sharing ones caregiving story, albeit it cancer, Alzheimer’s, or whatever health calamity you and your caree face, is a good antidote for any insidious diagnosis, like cancer.
As we age and face different life challenges, we can look back on pictures to help tell the story of what we don’t see right before our eyes. (2003 thru 2014 – click on the picture to see the year it was taken)
Pictures do tell a thousand stories. What I did not see in January of 2014, was because I was looking at 2003. The reality of a cancer diagnosis has a profound affect on everyone. Sharing ones story has a profound affect too. It reminds us that we are not alone in our caregiving journey.
I encourage you to share your caregiving story as you feel comfortable because cancer can never take away our love. You see…”We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Never Had Us”
Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” and the host of Healing Ties radio program.