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Celebrate Life as a Survivor

There are many milestones to celebrate as a survivor, such as completion of chemotherapy or radiation, the first doctor
BY Pam McMillan, RN, OCN
PUBLISHED November 04, 2017
CANCER DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE to be about the negativity that surrounds it.

There are many milestones to celebrate as a survivor, such as completion of chemotherapy or radiation, the first doctor’s visit after treatment, or a cancer-versary. However big or small the milestone, it’s worth a celebration.

The first Sunday in June is designated as National Cancer Survivors Day. On that day this year, I attended the 11th annual 24 Hours in the Canyon bike race. It started with a survivor send-off, when all the bike riders could see whom they were riding for. This part of the weekend was my absolute favorite. In my profession as an oncology nurse, I get so focused on fixing problems that I don’t always take the time to appreciate the little things in life.

As we were enjoying the beauty of Palo Duro Canyon in Amarillo, Texas, and celebrating those beside us, I found myself emotionally overwhelmed. I took a picture of an amazing group of riders, small pediatric survivors in the front row with big smiles on their faces and older survivors in the back with the same big smiles. Some were happy to be in a moment when they were not thinking about treatment. Others were happy to be meeting people who shared their experiences and feeling as though they were not alone.

As I look back at this group picture, I don’t see “cancer.” I see a group of people who have one common thread — the belief that life is more than the cancer that may be shaping it.

If you have the chance, I recommend that you find an event near you that celebrates survival. Take the time to celebrate life.
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