Cancer Survivor - Poem by Richard Lackman
Having worked for 35 years as an orthopedic cancer surgeon, I have certainly experienced life in an unusual way.This has been a wonderful experience for me, though trying at times. Yet these experiences have provided me with insight that I would not otherwise have attained.I was asked to write a short discourse on what it means to be a cancer survivor and I have attempted to relate my viewpoint in the following paragraphs.
What does it mean to be a cancer survivor? Truth be told, every day each one of us is a life survivor.I have not yet figured out why it is that our creator took so much effort to put us here and yet made it temporary.I suspect however, that the answer to this question may exist in the larger view of the universe around us.Not only are our lives temporary but so is our planet, our solar system, our galaxy and indeed; the entire universe as we know it.
As scientists now look far out into the stars, it is apparent that our small blue planet and the life it supports is indeed a rare if not singular situation.How fortunate then are we to occupy even this tiny bit of space during this tiny bit of time that we are here.In my own mind, this helps me to understand how precious every day is for each of us.However, whether by destiny or circumstance, we each lead our individual lives and experience this life for varying amounts of time.
I truly believe that the dignity and inherent value of our lives is determined not by our quantity of time but rather our quality of thought and action.As such, what better legacy could each of us have than to leave the earth a better placed than we found it.Few will ever win a Nobel Prize and yet true nobility remains within the reach of each of us.All it takes to ensure this nobility is kindness, patience and optimism.
Obviously any serious illness, such as cancer, reminds us in a harsh and scary way of our own mortality which we tend to forget in the course of our day-to-day lives.While these diseases and their treatment can detract from the physical quality of our lives, they do not change the fact that every day is precious.This is why it is so important for those undergoing cancer treatments, as well as for those whose treatments are behind them; and for that matter, for all of us, to experience love on a daily basis.While this love can certainly come to us, it must also come from us. This love can be directed toward another person, an activity that we cherish or simply an appreciation of the beauty around us. And I believe that it is this love and the fact of our existence that makes each day precious.
So in truth, by understanding the blessing each day represents; each of us is doing much more than simply surviving.
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