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A Reflection on Survivorship

I sit here on the 5th Anniversary of the September 11th bombings of the Twin Towers in New York City and wonder what can I say today that might be meaningful to individuals with cancer. Is there a connection? Is there anything appropriate to say today or should I simply wait another day or two?

I believe the connection is “survivorship”. Although we lost many wonderful people 5 years ago in New York City, there were many survivors. The same is true of cancer. Although we have lost too many lives to cancer, with new therapies and technology there is more hope now and expectation of surviving this disease. Decades ago we only talked of survivors of cancer as the family members whose loved one died from cancer. Now, rather than talking of the “cancer victim” we talk about the “cancer survivor”. We think of survivorship as the act of living on or the process of going through. The same applies to all of the individuals who are still alive after the bombings on 9/11/01 – they are in the process of living on despite the terrible tragedy.

For all survivors – whether from war, cancer, terrorism – it is a process with stages. Everyone will pass through the stages differently. Their quality of life changes as they continue to live on. They have different needs and concerns in different stages, but continued support is needed throughout the experience. And as with war or terrorism, there is often an outpouring of support for cancer survivors. Support may be found in informal or formal groups, local hotlines, educational sessions, religious and spiritual organizations, and family or friends.

As I reflect on this 5th Anniversary of 9/11/06 I believe the connection is SURVIVORSHIP and SURVIVORS.
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