As it turns out the prognosis was wrong. No one knows why I am still alive and even though I am not cured and still have daily health struggles, I am finding ways to live a meaningful life. During the time after my expected “expiration date” I have become very active in what I call “the cancer world”. I have attending several retreats; become a member of several organizations that provide support to cancer survivors and transitioned from a cancer patient to a cancer survivor and advocate to bring awareness to the issues that affect cancer survivors.
In the last three years, I have met hundreds of cancer survivors and have formed many friendships. Cancer survivors share a special bond and we often form strong relationships over a short period of time. Some of these friends I have met in person, others I only know online. One of the consequences of becoming friends with people with a life threatening illness is the likelihood of your friends dying is increased exponentially.
Over the last several years, I have known over 30 people that have passed away due to cancer. When I thought I only had a few months to live, I struggled with whether I should continue to attend events where I would meet new people and become friends. I was afraid that I was inviting someone into my life and asking them to watch me die. When I brought this concern up to some of my friends, I was told that is the risk we take when we meet other survivors. Every time I learn about the death of another person with cancer, I experience a type of survivor’s guilt. Why am I still alive when this other person is not?
I cannot begin to adequately describe the many wonderful qualities that Sage possessed. I do not have one memory of her at camp when she was not smiling. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone that had the honor to meet her is better for it. She has a spirit that touches everyone is a unique way and I for one am blessed to have met her. One of our fellow campers described Sage as the type of person the world needs more of. I may never see Sage in this life, but her spirit will always be with all that loved her.
I am currently fundraising for three organizations that have provided invaluable support throughout my own Cancer journey. If you are as passionate as I am about supporting the lives of those affected by this horrible disease, please consider making a donation to one of these incredible organizations.
Stupid Cancer / I’m Too Young for This http://stupidcancer.com/ Support the efforts of Stupid cancer in ensuring that young adult survivors get the chance to attend the OMG Summit and participate in a life-affirming weekend of support, education, community and hope. http://www.crowdrise.com/omg2012/fundraiser/alliward
First Descents http://firstdescents.org/ Offers young adult cancer fighters and survivors (ages 18 to 39) a free outdoor adventure experience designed to enable them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same. http://teamfd.firstdescents.org/2011/fd/Lolli/Alli/
Solo Survivors http://www.solosurvivors.org
A new organization whose mission is to provide tools, resources, support, and connection to navigate the cancer journey as a single person. This is not a dating service, but rather a place to feel connected to a larger community of singles who are facing similar challenges for support, sharing and advice.