Today has been an emotional day for me, a humbling day, an inspirational day.
On March 3, 1990, I received my final chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
But unlike that day, which was shared only with my oncology nurse, today, as I announced the 26th anniversary of my remission date on my personal Facebook page, I heard from so many who offered me congratulations on my survivorship.
It was not just friends and family that I heard from either. Because of my involvement across the internet with cancer support, many of those who I have counseled and even more, just other observing survivors offered me congratulations and well wishes. And as humbling to share this day with so many, it was even more inspiring to hear from other survivors who have beaten Hodgkin’s even longer than I have. I heard from people thirty years out, forty years out. And I am even aware of survivors well into their sixth decade.
Surviving cancer is a big deal. Surviving decades is an even bigger deal. I realize what my survival means to me, to my daughters, to my family, and to my friends I know what my survivorship means to other survivors who look at me and say, “I want to live a long time, just as Paul has.” The truth be told, with my survivorship has come a lot of loss as well. I have said goodbye to many who have been long term survivors who have succumbed due to issues created by their treatments, just as I deal with. And I have said goodbye to those who have been unable even make it through remission.
So as it goes, I recognize today. I do not celebrate it.
As always, I will always advocate for better and safer treatments. I will always push for protection from discrimination because now that people do survive cancer, they deserve to be treated no differently than those who have not heard the word cancer personally. I will continue to share information and help to educate patients and doctors because I truly believe that it is survivors who have pioneered the long term protocol we currently have today.
Yes, today is a big day for me. I know that. But there is so much to do yet.
Thank you all for your support, and see you next year (for the anniversary that is).