Dear cancer survivors: I recognize you. Your eyes have the same shadow as mine, the “I have looked my deepest fears in the face and I am still walking.” Your walk has the same cadence as mine, bravado mixed with hesitancy. You have the same vocabulary as me, diagnosis, treatment etc. You heart has the same ache for your loved ones as me, “how will they handle this pain while I travel this healing journey?” We have much in common. We have learned we could not go through this experience alone. We have learned to have faith in our doctors, in our family, in a God of our understanding. Our lives have not been the same since we heard those daunting words, “You have cancer.”

Dear lovers, friends, and family of cancer survivors: I recognize you. Your eyes burn with anger that your mother had to undergo chemo to save her body. Your eyes glow fiercely with pride for your partner’s walk through the valley of knives and needles. Your eyes tear with joy for your child’s news that the leukemia is in remission. When you enter a room your eyes quickly search for your loved one to make sure they are still there. You have learned you could not go through this experience alone. You have learned to have faith in your doctors, in your family, in a God of your understanding. Your life has not been the same since your loved one heard those daunting words, “You have cancer.”

Together we are the cancer tribe. There are way too many of us! Cancer in all its ugly forms is a modern epidemic. We are survivors, and more, we can become warriors. We are warriors when we face one of modern times greatest fears and most powerful struggles. Whether we choose alternative treatments, surgery or chemical treatments we all face difficult decisions. However we have one factor in common; if we want to survive we must deal somehow with this illness in our bodies. We each have our own stories. This is mine:

In 2006 I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and treated surgically. I was cancer-free for 5 years. In October of 2011, I was told I had a tumor on my kidney. When I received my diagnosis, three magic words were heard; small, operable and non-aggressive. For six months before the diagnosis I was not well. Fortunately, I had time between the diagnosis and the surgery to try some alternative medical treatments, and I received much healing prayer from so many loving friends. By the time the surgery rolled around in January of this year I was feeling better. Something had changed. I even wondered whether I still needed the surgery. When the surgeon went in he was surprised to find a benign tumor. When he told me in recovery about the outcome I felt truly blessed. I call this experience a miracle. Since the tumor was removed I have continued to grow stronger and healthier. In fact I am healthier than I have been in many years.

Some of us in this Cancer Tribe know miracles like mine. Others of us know the miracle of surviving when the odds were totally against us. And still others experience the miracles of forgiveness, and returning to a loving family as we make a physical transition. Or lovers and family members know the miracle of being able to care for their loved ones as they face this great challenge. Surviving Cancer is always a miracle. Whatever is our story we know courage in a myriad of forms. We are the Cancer Tribe, we are warriors in the truest sense of the word.

Do you see yourself as a miracle, as a warrior? Then I want to hear from you. I am compiling stories to create a book about the Cancer Tribe. Are you struggling with this illness and can't see your way through? I want to hear from you also.

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