Dana Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life, available at www.dragonflyangelsociety.com.
Too often, the news, internet and social media focus on the sad stories. As survivors, it is up to us to focus on those stories that are positive and how survivors living their lives. I call it the living stories.
I always watch the news. I don't care if the stories are good or bad. I just need to know what is happening in the world. I do find that the news seems to carry more of the upsetting, nerve-racking stories of the day as opposed to a news broadcast that could be filled with happy stories about people doing good in the world. Maybe there is not a big enough audience for this? That, I am not sure of.
I somewhat feel the same about cancer stories. Even before I got my own cancer diagnosis, when I heard cancer stories, they never seemed to turn out very good. The stories were always about someone who had a cancer diagnosis and their sad story of how their life was cut short by this awful disease. I don't know if these cancer stories were the ones that I just remembered or if there only seemed to be negative cancer stories.
Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I only wanted to hear about the people who made it. I was diagnosed at 32 years old, so I would search high and low for the stories of young adults diagnosed with cancer who lived their full lives after. Any positive outcome of cancer was something I latched onto like my life depended on it. In a sense, it did. As I went through treatment, I tried to keep everything as positive as I could, not only for my own sanity, but also for those around me. I needed to be around the clock positive. I needed to live it, see it and make sure my friends and family kept it attached to themselves as well. Otherwise, I was sure I would give up. If I came across any story that had to do with cancer that headed toward negative verbiage, I turned it away. With all this being said, how come there is not more coverage of the living stories? That's what I call the stories of those still going strong through their own cancer journey and living their lives.
I am not trying to make light of cancer. Believe me, I am not. However, the world is tough enough. So, why do we all focus on the negatives all the time? Why is there not more focus on the living stories of cancer? Those should be plastered across the news, social media, etc. Living stories of people who have walked down the cancer road and made it out healthy on the other side should plaster every doctor office waiting room. They should be attached to each and every one of us as we go through our own diagnosis and journey.
It shouldn't be something we have to dig so deep to find. I think that is the part of the cancer world that frustrates me the most. We hear about the great things that athletes and movie stars do. We make big deals about the negatives people do. That's covered daily on everything from news outlets to the internet. Shouldn't there be constant stories of hope as the top story? Wouldn't everyone want to hear about someone who battled cancer, never gave up and continued down the road to their dreams? Maybe they started their dream job, finished college, advocated for better health care laws, etc.
As cancer survivors, we can do this. We can focus on the living stories. We can focus on the positive stories of our cancer survivor friends and the living stories we are living in our own life. Instead of focusing on the negatives, promise me (even though most of you don't know me) that you will focus on the good. Remind yourself of the living stories whenever you get sad or scared. Don't allow yourself to linger too long on the negatives no matter how many times they seem to throw themselves in your face. There are a lot of good stories. It is up to us to continue to keep on living the living stories.