Happy cancer survivor day to you and you and you

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day, so if you are living with a history of cancer, it's a day to celebrate. By definition of the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation a "survivor" is from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life. Or as the foundation says: It is a day for cancer survivors to stand together and show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful, productive, and even inspiring. Lots of people are at events today put on by their hospital or local support community. I think this is a good idea because it's important to see that we are all out there. You can see if there are any events in your community by going to the facebook page for the foundation. These events are good because they often involve your nurses and doctors, and it's great to see them out of the regular routine so you can give them a hug. I like to celebrate the lives of all the women I have known through this marathon called cancer. My celebration includes both survivors and those who helped me survive. Women like Marilyn, who showed up to my support group one night all smiles. In my mind I kept thinking she must be a "newbie" or a woman who was just diagnosed and still in shock, wearing that "out of her mind" smile that says, "I just heard the word cancer and don't know who I am or where I am going." Instead when she started doing her 30 second intro, I learned she was beginning her 8th year of metastatic living and she liked to dress for the holidays � including the first day of summer for which she had a full watermelon outfit. Wait? what? 8 years of metastasis. This was the '90s. What was she doing here destroying my fantasy that I would not recur and never have to know anyone who did? How could Jan, our wonderful therapist facilitator, allow someone who was surely dying into our group? Then I found myself laughing with Marilyn. Every week, we laughed and laughed, and I learned that even someone who knew she was dying could be full of life. One night after group we took off to have dinner and Marilyn decided she had had enough of us going to the same restaurant. We had group at the hospital, close to the newly renovated, artsy, warehouse area close to downtown. She wanted us to go try one of the new restaurants there. So we said OK where to. We all piled in my van and took off for the 4 minute drive. Enroute, Marilyn said she needed help figuring out which prosthesis she should buy to replace the one she punctured while trying to stick it to the bathroom mirror. And the laughter started. We talked about prostheses all through dinner. I was the only one reconstructed and everyone else had an opinion. So when we piled back in my van in the dark parking lot across the street to head for the parking garage to collect everyone's cars, of course, it was show and tell. Maryilyn was sitting in the front seat and everyone had taken out their prosthesis and was trying to get Marilyn to buy her brand. Then, very slowly, a Dallas police car, drove through the alley, stopping to shine its light on my van, which was rocking back and forth from all the action going on inside as six women, all wearing clothes in the double digit tried to find and replace their prosthesis before the policeman got to the car. The shouts went something like this. "Kathy, turn the light on," "No, don't turn the light on," "Who has my prosthesis," "No, that is not your prosthesis." "Get your hand out of my shirt. " The policeman never even got out of his cruiser and we ended the night having to pull over three times during a 5 minute drive because I was laughing too hard to get to the hospital. Just before Marilyn died, she told me there were worse things than dying. "Dying without having lived." She told me. "That's lots worse." Today I celebrate Marilyn. Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire