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Survivorship is an act of endurance-- no matter what the final outcome may be. I resolutely believe that every person who has, is, or ever will experience cancer is a survivor regardless of longevity.

A Life Worth Surviving

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. graciously proclaimed, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy.” From the day we are born to the day we die, our lives are filled with adversities that seem unbearable; phases in which challenges are absent are unlikely to occur.

Despite the various trials that are common among men, most people would agree that cancer is one of the most insufferable oppressions that exist. However, in response to cancer, most people believe that the term ‘survivor’ refers to those who have conquered this illness without losing their lives. This belief is true, yet it is also far from the truth.

Survivorship is an act of endurance – no matter what the final outcome may be. I resolutely believe that every person who has, is, or ever will experience cancer is a survivor regardless of longevity. At the end of each day, if a person can honestly decree that they accentuated every degree of perseverance to bear the devastating burden, then survivorship is being displayed. This aphorism does not only apply to cancer; it applies to every challenge that thrives in this world. Following sickness as a baby, my endurance has been tested through fatherly unemployment and critically demanding school work. Currently, these trials, at times, threaten my well-being as well as the happiness of my family. My physical, mental, and emotional states are being stressed to their limits, and there have been numerous occasions in which I have retained little hope. However, in the face of oppression, when a trial seems too unbearable, I often remind myself that if I was able to win the battle against cancer, then no affliction has the power to undermine my progression. With an optimistic and compassionate attitude, I show gratitude to my loving parents for their laborious efforts and exhort them to continue fighting even if our future is precarious. Similarly, in my rigorous coursework, I have distinctly witnessed that by putting forth my best effort while retaining an enthusiastic, selfless attitude, success always comes in one form or another. These experiences incorporate the essential methods of survivorship: goals, determination, charity, and hope.

Survivorship entails that a person recognizes the possibility of a defeat; thus, the survivor cherishes his/her remaining time in order to discover true perpetuating happiness. Without hesitation, the most influential lesson that I have learned in eighteen years is that life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. As a cancer survivor, I have firsthand experience that life is short and extremely delicate. Therefore, each and every day, I attempt to live my life with a cheerful, confident attitude. The fundamental component of survivorship is simply that: cheer. I truly believe that love and laughter are the cures to any illness or obstacle. In order to survive, a person must do things that make them smile: watch Barney, ride around on an IV pole, buy pink sugar cookies with sprinkles from the hospital cafeteria. These quirks were medicine to my parents and me during my treatment, ultimately contributing to my survival. Life is fragile; life is temporary. Value each minute, and make each minute valuable. In the case that my cancer was to return, I will continue living as a humble fighter, a compassionate fighter. These are the traits that create a life worth surviving.

We all possess weaknesses, we all possess strengths. With endurance and splendor, we are able to conquer our trials that attempt to compromise our strengths and worsen our weaknesses. Survivorship is an act of courage. Most people define a courageous survivor as someone who has no fear, but I define a courageous survivor as someone who has enough determination to face something fearful. Similar to Dr. King’s words, only during times of “challenge and controversy” can we discover our individual capacity of valiant survivorship.