When I began to write for CURE
on June 12, 2015 with a piece called "An Expedition through Cancer," I had a million things to talk about, or so it seemed. And I really needed to talk. The truth about male breast cancer is that many men are reluctant to accept that this rare cancer has invaded our lives. I was as surprised, as anybody with my own diagnosis was, but I quickly found positive resources through which I could express my thoughts and concerns.
Interestingly, in the first few months, most of the survivors I spoke to on various cancer websites were women with breast cancer. It took a while for me to unearth the men, and as a consequence, my early writing was simply about cancer, all kinds of cancer, and the issues that are common for all of us with the disease.
Being able to express my personal experiences with seasoned cancer survivors, and those who are newly diagnosed with the disease as well, has been a rich and rewarding "medicine" for me for these last four years. And I've learned a lot from other people's insights and stories.
Though cancer survivors often speak about the three great fears we face: the fear of dying, the fear of recurrence and the fear of being stigmatized, it's amazing how we each relate to our cancer in so many different ways. The best part about having so many personalized stories to hear is that within those stories, there is often a common thread that we can relate to. Cancer affects our lives in countless ways and because of that; there is something important to learn from each and every survivor.
A few years ago, I remember thinking to myself, "when will I run out of issues to write about?" Now that I’m a four-year survivor, the answer to that question has become quite clear to me:
There is both hope and horror in cancer. Its reach is so insidious that by virtue of its very magnitude (14 million people are afflicted every year worldwide) science and medicine are always on full alert, forced to find new methods of combating the disease. The hope of a cure is a powerful incentive for all of us. And that's where hope comes into play.
On the other hand, the numbers of lives that have been disrupted and terrorized by its far-reaching grasp is almost unthinkable. Unfortunately, as long as there is cancer in the world, there will always be another page to be written.
Each day that we wake up and start the process of acknowledging our disease, knowing that it will be with us as we eat breakfast, go to work, talk with our kids, pay our bills, see our doctors and carrying on with our lives as best we can, there is a story written in each of our actions.
Cancer, in often subtle ways, colors everything in our lives. Even when cancer is in remission or hibernation, it's never far from our thoughts.
And so, our stories go on, here at CURE
and in countless conversations around the world. And though the stories are filled with personal anecdotes, humor, despair at times and even unpleasant and unfair things, they are all heartfelt moments in the life of a cancer survivor, printed on the pulp of our human experiences, perhaps to be recognized one day in the future as the billion thoughts that led to the cure.