You really should want to get a cancer survivor a gift for National Cancer Survivors Day, right?
Well, there’s a bit of a problem with this. As the cliche goes, what to get the person who has everything? Similarly, what could you give a cancer survivor that would do anything other than pale in comparison to what the survivor has already received? As survivors, we’ve already received the gifts of renewed health and extended life – the gift of survivorship itself. Every single day is a gift for us, and we don’t need a special day set aside to remind us. I don’t care how pure your intentions are, you are not going to top that.
All of that said, I actually do want something for National Cancer Survivors Day.
The thought that I am a cancer survivor does not cross my mind on a daily basis. It does not even cross my mind on most days. Nonetheless, while the thought itself may not cross my mind on most days, the fact of my survivorship does affect my thoughts and actions and outlook every single day, and will continue to do so as long as I am on Earth.
Because of this, I do not see myself primarily as a survivor, but I do believe that my survivorship may influence me to become who I am post-cancer.
So, for National Cancer Survivors Day, I would hope that the things I strive to be in my life are things that others actually see. I may mostly succeed at these things at times and come up short at other times, but these are the things I aspire to be.
Instead of a survivor, when you look at me or think of me I would like you to see:
A kind and good father to two daughters
A loving and faithful husband
A person who shows up to work each day, works hard, and does his work honestly without taking shortcuts or stepping on others to get ahead.
A person who, by virtue of his overall temperament and perceived character in addition to the attributes above, can be an effective witness for Christ.
A person who can give hope to others fighting cancer, by virtue of having emerged from a life-threatening illness in better health and physical fitness than was the case before the illness struck.
A person willing to admit when he fails.
I hope that you see these attributes not just in me, but also see similar attributes in other survivors in your life. It is my hope that, by demonstrating what survivors can offer the world, we can underscore the importance of helping others win their respective battles with the disease. These people are worth keeping around, because of what they can offer the world in their time here. They have work left to do here. It is not their time to go yet.
In summation, survivors surely appreciate your kind and encouraging words on National Cancer Survivors Day, but we do not need them. To the contrary, we want to serve as examples to encourage you.
If we can drive home the necessity of creating more survivors for the benefit of the human race, of knocking out this disease for good, then we have done our job.
While I know I don’t speak for all survivors, I’m confident in saying that, as a group, that’s what we really want for National Cancer Survivors Day. We don’t want to be the lucky ones anymore, we want to be what’s expected. And we want your help in making that a reality.
That’s really about it.