[Guest blog by Melanie A. Nix]
It’s hard to believe what a cancer diagnosis did to me. But, more than that, it’s hard to believe how I faced cancer. The devastation and the destruction would be unbelievable if I hadn’t actually lived through it. But here I am. Grateful for National Cancer Survivors Day®, a day that recognizes the challenges cancer survivors face while honoring and celebrating cancer survival. A day that further builds community among those affected by cancer. A day that helps me remember that I am a survivor, moving forward with no filter. I hope you will do the same.
It’s so easy to get caught up in ALL the images and messages around us. Clicking, scrolling, swiping, tapping to see the “beautiful” pictures of “curated” chronicles and easy living. Through filters, we see the well-crafted accounts of perfection and order. There is nothing easy, perfect, or beautiful about cancer. Oh, these scars, this disfigured body. There is no filter that could erase, embellish, bolster, disguise what these scars represent. The pain and suffering of multiple surgeries. Multiple attempts to remove the cancer, to prevent it from spreading or recurring. They are ugly and discolored, marring my body. They are reminders of tearful nights, anxiety-filled days, fear, and hopelessness.
It is tempting to want to cover these ugly scars. But I would not want a filter to diminish or cloud what these scars symbolize. Each time a bandage was removed to reveal a scar, it also flaunted my fortitude. Facing cancer, making difficult treatment decisions, and summoning my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength in ways I never had to before. My unfiltered view allows me to see and fully appreciate the many ways I confronted cancer.
But, navigating this new normal also means that I am surviving. It is the promise of today and all that it holds. It means living in this moment and extracting everything I can from it. Another day to celebrate life.
Peeling back another bandage reveals my ability to navigate my new normal. My life changed in an instant and will never be the same again. Seemingly carefree days were now filled with doctor’s appointments, medical research, surgery, treatment. Even after treatment, I had to figure out the best path for my full healing and recovery. But, navigating this new normal also means that I am surviving. It is the promise of today and all that it holds. It means living in this moment and extracting everything I can from it. Another day to celebrate life.
Without a filter, I can clearly see what surviving affirms. Cancer brings the bad and the ugly. But, looking back and looking forward without a filter, I can proudly see that survivorship spotlights our fortitude, our ability to summon strength in so many ways and to navigate and define our new normal.
I am glad that National Cancer Survivors Day® is dedicated to celebrating life, survival, on every first Sunday in June and throughout the year. Look closely. Look fully to see the vibrant and beautiful images of survival. I am proud of you. I am proud of me. Let’s look at the unfiltered and multidimensional images of survival and Celebrate Life.
Melanie A. Nix is a triple-negative breast cancer survivor. She uses her endowments as a storyteller, coach, and celebrator to bring joy and fulfillment to the lives of everyone she touches. The chief visionary of Diagnosis to Destiny, she shares lessons learned from surviving cancer that can pave the road from diagnosis to destiny. Follow Melanie on Instagram, @diagnosistodestiny,and on Twitter, @Diagnosis2Dstny.
Melanie is part of the Official NCSD Speakers Bureau Roster. To access the Roster, register your event today.