Survive or Thrive?

In one month I will be able to say, “I’m three years cancer free!”  It’s a strange thing.  Cancer comes into your life like a thief in the night, hoping to steal your hope and your energy and, if it is successful, take your life as well.  Too many succumb to its power.  Too many fall prey to its bite.   Cancer is and equal opportunity bully.  It doesn’t care about gender, race, or age.  You can’t throw a rock these days without hitting someone affected by the disease.  But that is not the question I want to tackle today.  Am I a cancer survivor or a cancer thriver?

This question has been haunting me ever since I heard Robin Roberts say, “I don’t want to be a cancer survivor.  I want to be a cancer thriver.”  I knew instantly what she was saying.  It wasn’t enough to just “survive” cancer.  If that’s all we’ve done, the cancer won already.  If our identity becomes tied with cancer, it won.  But, if cancer is just a footnote of our lives, then we truly have won…we are thriving.  I see so many stories of people who battled intensely and persistently their cancer and its affects.  I am blessed to say, my battle was brief and relatively easy.  It may not have seemed so at the time, but defeating it in a matter of months with just six intense treatments was a true blessing.

I see pictures of myself ringing the bell after my final treatment.  I was bald, hunched over, weak and depleted.  But within a matter of months, my body began to recover.  My strength resumed (for the most part).  There are after-effects I still suffer from:  loss of hearing requiring hearing aids, new allergies to cocoa and peanuts, light-headedness when I rise from seated or lying positions, and a total lack of endurance, but in the light of the alternative, I feel blessed again.  I try not to dwell on the fact I had cancer.  Instead, I try to dwell on the fact that I’m alive.  I live…not to just take my place in the world, but to do something with my life…to make a difference.

You know, while we’re on the subject, it doesn’t really matter if a person had cancer or not.  Now, before you huff and puff and walk away, hear me out.  It doesn’t matter in the light that we should all ask ourselves the same question.  Am I just surviving…living for the weekend…living for retirement OR am I thriving…thankful for the gift of each new day…paying it forward…investing this gift of life in another or a cause greater than myself?  Don’t just survive this life.  “This is the day the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24).  Thrive!


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