By Wanda Cobb
Each year at this time we see pink ribbons everywhere and hear about breast cancer.
I am a survivor because I made sure that I faithfully got my mammograms every year.
The three words “you have cancer” are hard to hear. They stick in your throat and twist in your stomach. Those words are dictating your existence, your expectations, and your future. When cancer strikes it doesn’t care if you still have things undone. It does not discriminate.
I could not speak as the doctor said, “It did not turn out like we had hoped.” I could hear a distant mumbling. I only heard every other word he said after the initial shock.
I had some very hard decisions to make. Ultimately, I decided that cancer was not going to steal my life. My decisions were easy then; breast or no breast, live or die. It was a decision that I had to be comfortable with; I had to “own” my decision. I still feel comfortable with my decisions.
This was my fourth year participating in Relay For Life, but it won’t be my last! I can’t tell you the excitement I felt the first time I walked the first lap of the track as a survivor. I held the banner and cried as everyone clapped for all survivors as we walked by. I was not expecting that. It was a very emotional lap. It helped me grow in my journey. Each year I make a luminary bag in remembrance of others who have finished their fight.
No one is the same after experiencing a life threatening illness. As long as you are alive, you have an important place in this world. You may feel that the stakes are higher now that you have a second chance. You may feel pressured to live this life “better” than the one before you were diagnosed with cancer, but it may not be clear what “better” means to you.
Time now to work out who you are today and what you are going to do with your life. To explore and discover what’s important and meaningful to YOU. To share what you’ve learned on this journey so others may benefit. That’s why we are all here today.
Be nice to everyone you meet because under their strong exterior, you don’t know what they are going through. Always support others with a kind word or a hug when you can.
As for me, I’ve decided to go for the nursing degree I’ve always wanted. I am four years cancer free and still keeping my chin up, trying to be the best I can be every day. Some days are better than others.
Why don’t we all take better care of ourselves? Our families need us! Do you know why when you’re on an airplane they say, put your mask on first? Because you have to take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.
Now I want everyone to promise themselves and their family that they will get their yearly checkups. Promise to love your family by taking care of yourself. If you have an hour or two, a kind heart and friendly smile, we need you at the next Relay for Life. Hope to see you there.
If anyone would like to join my team or make a donation the URL is:
The team link is:
Photographs from Team Kiss Cancer Goodbye