On National Cancer Survivors Day, Thoughts on Being a Survivor

cancer mythWhat’s on my mind today on National Cancer Survivors Day as a cancer survivor?

2009 was a bad year for me as in the spring my dad died and then in the fall I was diagnosed with a very serious form of prostate cancer out of the blue at age 42. I then had surgery.

The cancer itself made me feel physically sick, but also going through the whole experience including the shock of the diagnosis with a potentially fatal illness and the surgery was intensely bad. The recovery was really unpleasant and soon I then got the bad news of the path report indicating the tumor was Stage 3. What is one supposed to do?

It’s the kind of thing you just have to ride through as best you can and hang onto hope. Family and friends helped so much!

Now about six and a half years after the surgery, on this day I feel very fortunate with how things are going so far (knock on wood). While I’m doing well overall and incredibly well compared to what the diagnosis might have predicted, I’m thinking today of others with cancer who are no longer with us. Also on my mind are those who may not be fortunate to get excellent health care.

There are many myths about cancer too that one runs into as a cancer survivor including about one’s own type of cancer and more generally. Some of these led to really awkward moments. Some people also had a hard time adjusting their thinking that a 42-year-old could get prostate cancer, which they think of as an old person’s disease. I have to admit that was something I had to wrap my own mind around too.

As I’ve written before, as much as cancer stinks to put it mildly I’ve felt like going through it has made me appreciate life more and be more willing to take risks to try to make positive things happen. Today, if you’ve never had cancer count yourself lucky and think about those who have, but if you’ve had cancer or have it right now do something nice for yourself or fun and focus on just this one day.

2 thoughts on “On National Cancer Survivors Day, Thoughts on Being a Survivor”

  1. Paul–
    Good piece on surviving a bout with cancer. It helps me with understanding the cancer issues that have arisen over the last few months involving some family and friends. I should also say that you have made a fresh and worthwhile national and international contribution with your blog, helping to bring a scientific perspective to a more general public while at the same time airing important scientific and research issues. Thanks. Dave Jensen

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