[NCSD guest blog post by Glenn Brooks]
With a title like that, certainly you want to read a little further. If only just to figure out what is the deal with this guy? Please, let me explain…
In September 2011, I was diagnosed with stage IV head and neck cancer, originating in the lingual tonsil. My treatment included chemotherapy, radiation, hydration therapy, tonsillectomy, feeding tube, extended stays in the hospital, and two-and-a-half months of not being able to eat, drink, or speak. As I write this, I keep looking back at the title of this piece and thinking, Cancer a blessing … really? Perhaps I am a bit irrational.
Let me set one thing straight. Given the choice, I would have never welcomed cancer’s invasion of my body. Heck, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But the harsh, cruel reality is this: Cancer DID invade my body, and with that, I have been given an opportunity to use that cancer experience to help others. THAT is the blessing.
Let’s face it, as a cancer survivor, you receive a remarkable gift – authentic understanding, an understanding that a doctor doesn’t have, or a nurse, or a counselor (though we all owe them a debt of gratitude for their contributions to say the least). As a survivor, you directly understand the financial, spiritual, practical, relational, philosophical, emotional, and physical challenges because you have lived them, survived them, and now have the opportunity to share them. That makes us … and here’s another outlandish statement … that makes us lucky, as we are still here. We still have breath.
Glenn Brooks, a survivor of stage IV head and neck cancer and caregiver for his wife when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, is an American Cancer Society Voice of Hope and is the founder of the STI Cancer Support Network.