It started with a show on TLC called, "Crazy, Sexy Cancer". If you didn't have the pleasure of seeing it, check your listing for a reshowing. Wait, here:
This young woman named Kris Carr was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer. She has approached it with a courage and a tenacious, fiesty spirit that I truly envy. If you take a minute to read her website, or her blog (which is also great) you will see what I mean and you will agree that, even though her cancer cannot technically be called "in remission", she is the epitome of the word Survivor.
It is a phrase we know too well. How many of us have family and friends who are "cancer survivors"? I always feel so proud to know cancer (sorry, Kris) CanSer survivors. I am amazed by their strength. I am amazed that anyone can look their own mortality square in the face and nothing forces you to do that like CanSer does.
Tonight my husband was watching a show about Lance Armstrong. Alot of it included his battle with CanSer and as they interviewed his teammates, family and friends I must have heard the word "survivor" no less than 20 times. And I found myself facing the strangest emotional response yet:
I was jealous.
Certainly not of people who have had CanSer. It is a horrifically devastating disease. But I was jealous of this word, "survivor".
Both Kris and Lance talk about how their outlooks on life changed after their illnesses. How could your outlook NOT change when you have faced the very real possibility of death? A lot of people say their lives changed for the better...they learned to appreciate things more, to not sweat the small stuff and to just cherish being alive. Isn't that something we all strive for...or should anyway?
I am NOT the same person I was before MS entered my life. It has drastically changed my outlook on many things. I can no longer plan my future without factoring in "what if MS does this...or that...?" Sure they are still just "what if's" but in my world, they are very real possibilities that have to be considered. It has affected my daily life and activities, my work, my relationships...I still cannot see properly, I live 60-70% of my day fighting either extreme fatigue, numbness, sensory problems, pain and/or balance issues. (The "I am not Drunk! I just have MS!" t-shirt is coming soon...)
But does all that really make me a "survivor"?
We all overcome hardships and adversity. We all make mistakes and learn from them. We all fight to become better men and women and leave the world a better place than we found it.
So here's to all the Survivors out there:
To a woman who raised 2 seriously ill children without ever asking "why me?" and now fights her own serious illness without ever asking "why me?"...To a man who fights to stay sober and remembers the true joys of life without needing alcohol...To a woman who is not only a cancer survivor but fights another devastating chronic illness and continues to inspire others...To a man who was told he would never be able to hear or speak normally, who overcame all odds and grew into someone I am so proud to know...
To all of you and so many more...
I raise my glass to you.
We are all Survivors in our own way.