Yes, I am still here!
Indeed, the scarlet C's are more likely to rest on some seasoned survivors who have overcome fear and marshaled inner strength that perhaps even they didn't know they had. They have gone through the proverbial blackberry winter--that time of bitter frost that singes the blackberry's bloom but brings forth a sturdier fruit. And that's the real message. It's not about the cancer as much as it is about living through a time of peril with loved ones--and prevailing.
Lingering in my heart is a tender note that came to me early in my illness from a Johns Hopkins colleague. She lives with a serious heart condition and has survived deadly rhythms and a cardiac arrest. She wrote: "All of the odds have been staked against my survival, even worse, against my survival with everything intact. But here I am writing yet another grant, going to work . . . visiting my daughter in Western Samoa five thousand miles from good medical care. I have learned to approach each day as a gift, although at first that was quite difficult. I've come to realize what incredible courage it takes to go through a serious illness."
Every one of us becomes a survivor of sorts the moment we enter this world and have our first cry. Each of us will encounter many who have endured a time of mortal danger, be it from cancer or something similar. Gain strength from them. Sooner or later, they will be you.