Meet Carly Chapman
"You can either focus on the disease, the sickness, and the possibility of dying or you can reach out and grab hold of a great hope for the future."
Every moment after you are released from the hospital is filled with sweet appreciation for a life that you once took for granted. It seems so easy to laugh at the little worries and problems of the day when you compare them with your experience of lying sick for a year. A cancer survivor, once officially pronounced cancer free, wakes up everyday with gratitude for every part of life: from the wind-blown hair, to the relationships with your friends and family around you, it all matters now. To me, being a cancer survivor helped me realize that every person on this earth has a significant role to play, a purpose in life no one else can fulfill. This brings me to the last piece of what it means to be a cancer survivor, a desire to help those who were once hurting like you.
Extending a helping hand to those who are in the same position you were in is not so much a necessity, as it is a deep desire to help others envision a healthy future you once had trouble seeing yourself. After I was pronounced cancer free, I gave the doctors and nurses at Riley Hospital permission to give my name and number to anyone undergoing chemotherapy for osteosarcoma. Over the past 13 years, I have met with, and become friends with, seven children who were diagnosed with osteosarcoma. I wanted to give them a glimpse of what life could be like on the other side of having cancer. Although only three out of the seven children survived, I know their parents always appreciated the encouragement I could give them for the time they were in the hospital. I believe cancer survivors see beyond themselves and seek to strengthen and help others become survivors as well. Survivorship is not about me. I survived to help others find a great hope for the future, a deep gratitude for the present moment, and a way to make cancer a thing of the past. I am a cancer survivor.