Thursday, January 25, 2007

After Cancer Diagnosis – The Obligation of the Cured!

All cancer survivors have an important decision to make after being told they have cancer. A survivor’s decision is based on a simple question, “What do I need to do now?” All survivors have thoughts running through their head such as, but not limited to:

What is cancer and why did I get it? Why do I have cancer? What are my options? How am I going to treat this? What is the cure rate for my type of cancer? Am I going to die? Do I have health coverage? Where do I go for treatments? What is my family going to do? How do I tell friends I have cancer?

All of these and much more are questions the cancer survivor will start to think about and most certainly will start to ask his/her doctor. Most of these questions will be addressed between you, your doctors, family and friends. One question that is often overlooked, but could be equally important is, “Do I get involved in cancer support, advocacy and make cancer a priority?”

I agree with Lance Armstrong when he promotes what he calls “the obligation of the cured.” That is exactly how I feel and I know many other survivors also agree. If all cancer survivors stand together we can make a difference.

Though I make it sound like the decision is an easy one, which I think it is, at the time I was diagnosed I just wanted to get the cancer out of me, treat it and move on.

The hours/days following my diagnosis I started to think of why didn’t I pay more attention to cancer and how can learn more. I did not hear much about cancer growing up in school so I had to educate myself as quick as possible.

My doctor advised me to look at the American Cancer Society, Lance Armstrong Foundation and the National Cancer Institute. These were great resources and through their websites I was able to find other resources which are more specific to my type of cancer such as; Testicular Cancer Resource Center and Testicular Cancer Information & Support.

From the time I was diagnosed to the time I had surgery I was able to educate myself on testicular cancer and many other cancers. I got involved with the LAF by applying to their LIVESTRONG Summit and went in October. When I returned home from the summit I immediately went out to the local papers to ensure I did my part to help put cancer in the papers, tell my story and review the LIVESTRONG Summit.

As part of the obligation of the cured I believe all survivors need to ensure they are staying on top of the cancer news and what is going on in the cancer community. I also understand this is my opinion and others will not agree, but just think of it. If cancer survivors do not take action to learn more, get involved and make cancer a national priority we will never make the progress in research, survival rates, etc. This means more people will be diagnosed and even worse, more people will DIE! We need to stand up together.

I hope and pray all cancer survivors & caregivers take the time to understand we are obligated to make a difference and though it may be hard to dedicate the time we need to tell ourselves that it is worth it!