I’ve Found a New Home With Other Cancer Survivors

As I reflect on cancer survivorship, I notice how important the camraderie with fellow survivors is.

National Cancer Survivors Day has come and gone, but I like to reflect on the importance of survivorship all year long.

Eight years into my cancer journey, I feel lucky to be alive, and lucky to have so many fellow survivors to tag along with.

Together, we have formed a confidential collective. Ours is a collective of friendship where no topic is off the table. It’s a collective of pain where empathy reigns. And it’s a collective of unwavering acceptance, and of wisdom gained through years of sharing, understanding and love.

Mutual trust binds us. We trust each other that the innermost details of our cancer world are not shared broadly. Sharing implies discretion, a cardinal rule in our collective.

Early on, when the infamous “cancer” word was first uttered to me, I clammed up. I denied this negative turn of events in my health, and leaped headlong into my work as a freelance writer. Work was my escape, my salvation. I didn’t know there was a world outside the solitary one I had chosen.

Finding a Brand-New World

When I found the other world, via support groups, I was truly amazed that my story would count for something. I was amazed that I would be listened to carefully and patiently, and that someone would care. It was a breakthrough moment.

For those cancer patients still hesitant about opening up to others, remember that in our world strangers can become instant friends, sharing common experiences of pain, anxiety and hope. That first step is always the most difficult to take, but I managed it and have never reversed course.

Should Have Acted Sooner

If I had to do it all over again, I would have acted sooner instead of allowing my denial to take deep root and keep me closed up with my worrisome secret. Yes, it takes courage to walk out into the light, but that decision has changed my life for the better.

I cannot imagine traveling this sometimes-bumpy road without the selfless, generous men and women in my support groups. In addition to my truly remarkable caregiver/wife, they help me find calm amid the chaos in the cancer experience.

I’ve found a collective of shared friendship, pain and wisdom, and, most importantly, my new home.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.