Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
What is a cancer survivor's responsibility? How can she make a difference in the world?
What is my responsibility as a breast cancer survivor? That was a question I posed to myself a few days ago. I was ashamed to say, when I first began thinking about it, I didn't have an answer. It took a few days of pondering before I realized there were many ways I could have been making a difference in my own life and in those around me. This new thought caused me to realize, although I indeed had a responsibility and although I hadn't focused on it before, it wasn't too late to begin.
One of the very best ways cancer survivors can make a difference is to be willing to share their stories. It might not be feasible to share openly in a public forum, but even sharing with one or two friends or family can make a difference. As we take time to let others enter our cancer journey, we help break down the walls of fear that immediately go up whenever the word cancer is mentioned. In telling our stories, we can educate others.
Another way survivors can make a difference is to provide compassion and support to the newly diagnosed. No one understands cancer better than someone who's already faced it. We are the ones with the ability to help guide a novice gently through the scary world of unknowns.
Survivors can also help advance the cancer field by being willing to participate in clinical trials. Under certain circumstances, some cancer survivors find they qualify for studies that bring new information to the world of medical research. This is a very personal choice, but if the option to participate in a trial is presented, please carefully consider it. Without willing participants, trials would no longer be available and new treatments as a result of these studies.
Cancer survivors can make a huge difference by continuing to fight. Treatments like radiation, chemotherapy and adjuvant therapy aren't easy. It takes determination and fortitude to push through some very difficult days. By fighting the good fight, we show the world our desire to live.
Not only do survivors need to continue their fight, they also need to make a difference by choosing never to give up. A positive attitude is one of the very best prescriptions for a cancer survivor. This is a remedy that must be self-prescribed because a medical professional more than likely won't write one out for anyone. Positivity is a choice that can make a big difference and it seems to rub off easily on others.
Cancer survivors can make a difference in their communities by being willing to participate in cancer awareness events. When races, fundraisers, or other cancer related events are held, it's important for those of us who've been dealt the cancer card take part in the festivities. Many factors are involved in making these events possible and if one is physically able, participation says, "I care, I am part of this community, and I haven't given up."
Some treatment facilities provide special programs for those touched by cancer. We can make a difference by participating in those programs and by letting the ones hosting them know how much we appreciate their efforts. Cooking demonstrations, art projects, creative writing and many other offerings are easily found by checking with your local hospital or care facility.
Another way we can make a difference in the cancer world is to become knowledgeable about the disease. Cancer has a way of forcing survivors to become armchair researchers. If we take that knowledge and glean from it, we can become more informed and better prepared when the time comes for decisions that might relate to our health care.
Finally, cancer survivors can make a difference by choosing to live their best life and by always hoping for a cure. By making a conscious decision to take one day at a time and live it to the best of your ability, you let cancer know it did not win.
When you think about it, there are many ways survivors can make a difference in the world today. These are just a few of them. It's important to take time to think about ways you can make a difference but hopefully, this article has given you some good food for thought.