National Cancer Survivors Day is a day of celebration of life. For me, it’s a day filled with hope and gratitude.
Each year, this special day occurs on the first Sunday in June. This year, this celebration of hope was on June 4th, my birthday. Not only did I enjoy the celebration of my 70th birthday with friends and my daughter, Laura, I was also reminded that I have been a cancer survivor since 2007. Those two celebrations on one day made June 4th extra special.
MD Anderson Cancer Center
In a previous blog I wrote,
“From the beginning, during my trips to MD Anderson after I moved to Texas, I have been astounded by the amazing work of the doctors, nurses and staffers.
But I’ve drawn my strength from the examples of hope from other patients I’ve met in the waiting rooms. They have already experienced what it’s like to get that dreaded diagnosis and move on from it. They make the newbies feel less vulnerable and alone. In the waiting rooms, we are all generous sharing our experiences, strength and hope, even though some are struggling with difficult and unbelievable odds.
Other patients told me right from the beginning what worked for them and the things they did to build hope and faith. I believed. Their courage, combined with great treatment from caregivers, especially amazing doctors, and support from family members and friends, inspires us to believe in the best possible outcome.”
The reason I go to MD Anderson is that I have CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. It is not curable but it is manageable. I approach each visit to the Center with some uneasiness and anxiety, but I expect that’s typical. I also remember how fortunate I am to have such competent caregivers.
The first time I met Dr. Keating, my doctor, he welcomed me with a huge bear hug and a “Good Da,” in his wonderful Australian accent.
I was drawn to his cheerful demeanor and I relaxed immediately. After undergoing tests, I met with him the next day to go over the results. During that appointment Dr. Keating explained, “You have CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. The good news,” he said, “is that if you have to have cancer, you’ve got the best kind.” The best kind, I thought, what a relief!
This first meeting with Dr. Keating set the stage for my attitude. From that day forward, I understood that I could get better and live with cancer. Dr. Keating was competent, honest and genuine; I trusted him. Most of all, his demeanor and confidence gave me hope—that hope has stayed with me and grown stronger.
MD Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Art Project
When I go to Houston for an appointment, my favorite place to shop is at the MD Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Art Project, a program run by a committed group of adult volunteers. Brave young patients participate in art classes and create amazing artwork, which is then used to design products such as cards, jewelry, decorations and more. The proceeds from the sales contribute directly to patient programs. Please visit the online store here. Even if you choose not to order now, the children’s art will inspire you.
The young patients at MD Anderson motivate me and touch my soul. These children, and their parents, are brave and hopeful. I am moved by their innocence and in awe of their spirit and courage.
To read more on this subject, here are a list of posts from my blog:
- “Listen to Your Inner Voice – Cancer?” (February 16, 2017)
- “Gratitude in the Good Times and Not So Good Times: Paige Davis” (February 1, 2017)
- “Gaining Courage and Gratitude from the Waiting Room” (December 15, 2016)