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I believe that the time of our birth, God looks ahead into our future for the worst times in our lives and places people along our path who are strong enough to carry us over the rough road before us! These people are called SURVIVORS.

February 1998, I sat numbed in the chair, unable to swallow. My stomach was in painful knots and I was having a hard time breathing. It couldn't be true! I was just 40 and much too young to have cancer. The true reason I went to my doctor was to have him tell me cancer was on my mind, due to the recent loss of Jane Randolph; and that I was cancer free. It didn't happen and now I had to face the fact that the rest of my life would be spent as a cancer SURVIVOR.

The word survivor has two meanings that are much alike based on the root word survive, meaning "To remain alive or in existence."

1. To live longer than; outlive.
2. To live or persist through.

Both meanings can apply to many cancer survivors, but not all of us. The first one is the meaning we all wish for. To live longer than; outlive the cancer in our body. 

From the time I was born I grew up with the fact that my Grandmother had a radical mastectomy on her journey to survive cancer. I believed that she lived into her late eighties, so to me, cancer was more of a word than an illness. After all I never remember seeing my Grandmother sick. Years later, my mom also came down with breast cancer. I never really understood what all her worrying was about, after all, her own mother had lived for years as a cancer survivor. My mom just needed to have the surgery and all would be well. Today my mom is doing fine and is a cancer survivor by the standards of both meanings.

Sad but true, not all cancer survivors live longer or outlive the cancer. My roommate Mitch's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 1994. At that point in my life, I had developed a relationship with his mom, Jane, that was closer then the relationship with my own mother. For the past four years, Jane had graciously welcomed me into her family during all holidays and special occasions. As Mitch and his dad would sit in the living room talking, Jane and I would sit outside and watch the fireflies. Jane and I would talk about everything and yet we would talk about nothing. Then in June, the family discussions revolved around cancer. My understanding grew at that time as we talked about what treatment would be best for her . We survived all of these things together as Jane's surgery and treatment were successful.

Two years later in August of 1996, I came home from a day of work to the exciting news that Jane had called with good news. Her doctors gave her a clean bill of health. I remember the day well as we were both so happy that we went out to dinner to celebrate. The celebration was short lived. Four months later, came the words no one expected. The cancer was back and Jane was terminally ill. For the next several months, we agonized with the fact that being a cancer survivor means "To live or persist through" even if just for another day. 

The loss of Jane Randolph was one of the greatest losses of my life. She passed away on August 8, 1997. Mitch and I grieved for six months, when the news hit. Only 6 months later, I  developed prostate cancer. Mitch and his family were not in any shape to receive this type of news, so I planed to face cancer by myself and told only two people.

At my first [company] conference I was a cancer survivor of 5 months. I had given up hope and let my business drop off to almost nothing. I knew it would be my one and only national conference, all my dreams were shattered. When conference was over, I would move Mitch, along with my pets to Ohio. Then I would go through treatments and wait for my turn to die. At conference, I sat in my chair and listened to Dianne Baldridge talk about being a cancer survivor. I knew at once that God had placed her in my path! I had quit living with one look at the road ahead of me. Dianne Baldridge had just picked me up and would carry me down the road till I was strong enough to walk on my own once more.

Being a Cancer survivor means many things. You first have to survive the fears that you might have it and the shock of knowing. I sat alone in my bathroom and cried many hours after my doctors appointment. Next you have to survive telling your family and friends. It sounds easy to many of you, but for me and all the other survivors I know, it is one of the most difficult things to have to survive! Next we have to survive talking about parts of our bodies we wish we didn't have to and survive the many embarrassing checkups and test our doctors need to put us through. We have to survive treatments and medicines often more painful then the cancer itself. Many times the treatments left me with a low white blood cell count to the point that I couldn't go out and run my business. I survived! Most important we have to survive the fact that we are not cured and our next doctors visit could bring us bad news. 

Surviving cancer is "To live or persist through". The change in our bodies, long treatments, fear of a return, lost work and wages, the pile of bills are among the many things we have to live through, one day at a time. Some of us lose our families in the battle, yet we must fight on. Being a cancer survivor we need many things to make it another day. Three of the things we need most of all are hope, love, and support. In the past year our beloved cancer survivor, Dianne Baldridge, has lead the [company] campaign to offer us these three things. Her openness about her struggles to survive have given many of us hope! Many of you by your letters and kind words have filled our lives with love. Your hard work to beat the goal of $500,000 has given us support. 

I am a cancer survivor! I have survived many things this past year as have all of our [company] family survivors. To all of you, we say thank you for your love and support. You have carried us along the rough roads another year. In just over a week, many of us will meet in Washington once more. It will be my second conference and my second as a cancer SURVIVOR. Missing will be cancer survivors too ill to make it as well as those who have lost the battle. They will always be with us in spirit. As for the rest of us, we will survive another conference supported by your love and kindness. 

Has God placed us there so that we will be along someone else path? I think so. With Dianne Baldridge and all of you helping me this past year, I'm strong enough to make it on my own and carry a friend or two along with me till the road is easy once more. My dream is alive, thanks to many of you! 

There are many types of SURVIVORS. People that have joined [company] and hit a rough spot in the road ahead. They SURVIVED canceled parties, lack of bookings and small sales. Some one carried them along the road in the past. Now God has placed them in your path as you look out at the rough [company] road ahead of you. For one week they will pick you up, carry you along, and place you back down on the road to living out your American dream.

A survivor is, "To live or persist through". Dianne Baldridge and I are cancer survivors! We have lived through our cancer another year. Yet in many ways all of you are survivors as well. You have been at our side when we needed you and survived! You set a huge goal of $500,000 , beat it, and survived! You have stuck with [company] when times were tough! In my book, that makes us all SURVIVORS! Thank you! May we all survive together another year till we meet again at national conference, a gathering of SURVIVORS!

I will remember you, Hank

This page last updated July 06, 2005