Miracle Survivor Christine Dittman with her family
My heart is deeply saddened by the passing of Patrick Swayze. Like millions of women of my generation, I fell in love with him in Dirty Dancing and Ghost. But my admiration only grew as I watched his determination and grace as he shared his experience as a pancreatic cancer survivor.
At the same time, I learned yesterday that a friend of mine will soon succumb to breast cancer. Over the past year, I joined with a group of women to support her and her family with meals and visits. The past two weeks, I’ve invited her soon-to-be, 9-year-old son on playdates with my daughter.
To me both of these people are miracle survivors in so many ways. Both have decided to live their lives for as long as possible, as well as possible. And, along the way, they touched so many people with their warmth, love and perseverance.
So it bothered me that once again, the media when announcing Swayze’s death, used the term, “lost his battle with cancer.” Recently I’ve had discussions about the “battle” analogy in regards to cancer. I even went back and asked how the people featured in my book thought about. The best answer, in my opinion, came from Christine Dittman, a remarkable four-year survivor of Stage IV ovarian cancer:
I don’t mind the battle analogy, but I look at it more as living with cancer. I’ve come to realize cancer is just one part of our busy lives. We have lots of fun as a family, taking trips and just being together. …We have a sense of humor, and that helps. We love funny movies, and all of us are good at laughing at ourselves. Some people might think our humor is kind of dark. I’ll say to my husband Steve, “You know I’m dying here, and he’ll say, “Well, can you get on with it?” Or when I have a good medical report he’ll say, “There goes my Corvette for another three months.”
Not everyone in my book is in remission; some of them, like Christine, are still in treatment. But they are very much miracle survivors – living with cancer every day with grace, humor and love.
What do you think about the battle analogy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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