Sunday was National Cancer Survivor Day and Eileen and I celebrated it by attending a meeting of survivors. The day started off with a definition of “Survivor”. The broadest would include not just the cancer patient but the patient’s entire team. Family, friends, health care providers make up the team and when I think that Eileen and I each had our own team, the number of our combined team members is staggering. It continues to grow.
The next thing I learned is that I was embarrassed listening to the experiences of the panelists who offered their experiences with cancer and being a survivor. I had it so easy compared to many of the people who spoke and those in the audience who merely nodded their heads in agreement. When I think about what my own wife, Eileen, endured during her treatment and what she continues to endure, I feel kind of silly and ashamed thinking about the times I was feeling sorry for myself.
I also learned a new mantra. Victor not Victim. Again, I was humbled by the few times in my thirteen years of surviving when I felt sorry for myself. I will now try to live up to the concept of being a Victor and leave the Victim behind. I should have learned that lesson from Eileen but I have been known sometimes not to listen.
The other thing I learned is that Eileen and I have a story to tell. We started talking about it before yesterday’s meeting but Eileen got a head start at 3 AM this morning. An idea for a title of of the book that we will write is His Story Her Story: A Couple’s Guide To Survival.
The concept is that we will each write about our own cancer and that of each others’. We will each write from the vantage points of patient and care giver. I was the patient first and I never knew how hard it was being a care giver until it was my turn. Eileen has already started writing her view as a patient and I am not sure how I can match here poignancy and emotion. She gets right to the heart of the matter while I have a tendency to worry more about how I write rather than what I write.
Though we may differ in style and, at times, subject matter, I think we both will accomplish illustrating the importance of family and friends and health care providers who make you feel it is their life’s mission to make your day. I would never have imagined going into an oncologist’s office and being happy to see the people there. It is one of those blessings I mentioned earlier.
My guess is that if you are reading this you are a member of our team in some way. You have either supported Eileen and I directly or, perhaps, you have supported members of our family or one of our friends. You certainly have supported other cancer survivors. It’s a big club.