April 5, 2019
By: Dr. Amit Rana

Stories of Cancer Survivor

Stories have the power to move people. Stories that rise form hardships in life, stories that come from cancer survivors. Inspiring words meant to change people for the better, meant to show what cancer could do to the healthiest and toughest people of them all.

When we look at the case of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in Sarah *, it makes us think of how cancer doesn’t discriminate and affects the sweetest and most active of the children. At the age of 12, she and her family found out that her shortness of breath and headaches were the cause of leukemia. Amidst spinal taps, surgeries, blood and platelets transfusions, and major infections, Sarah has a strong team of family and medical professionals to support her through her toughest times. “My whole outlook on life is different now,” said Sarah’s mother. “There is a lot of beauty in our lives to appreciate the little things and the things that are authentic and real. It opens your eyes to a lot of truths that were probably in front of me the whole time, and I just didn’t realize it. Never take one day for granted, because you just never know.” Sometimes, the greatest strength could come from within and Sarah’s song could remind us of that. Upon meeting a Tv producer, Sarah found a way to sing her song and sent it out to the children talking about love, strength, hope, and beauty. “People wrote that I was inspirational and that this will help their daughters and sons get through their illness. It makes me feel like I did something good. I feel like I helped people,” said Sarah.

            Morgan*, a breast cancer survivor quotes “As I am nearing the 10-year mark of survivorship, I think back to all the things I have been able to enjoy: watching our son grow up, celebrating my dad’s 90th birthday, weddings, traveling, helping others and generally, just enjoying life with my family and friends.”, after receiving lumpectomy soon after receiving a do-over letter a year after her mammogram for breast cancer came negative. In the mid of May after a faulty diagnosis that later led to a do-over, a new test came with a shocking confirmation that she had breast cancer and had had it over the past year since her first consultation for a mammogram, Morgan underwent lumpectomy that left her with a relatively unnoticeable scar. Even though her breast cancer detection was a year late, it was pretty early and the key to fighting cancer is early detection and treatment. She is now a Cancer Fighters ambassador helping others fight the disease.

            Shawn’s * story starts with numbness in his fingers. A father to four sons and husband to Lily*, he suffered from brain cancer. His MRI scans showed something suspicious and later came out to be multiple sclerosis. Upon taking up his wife’s advice to seek a second opinion, and things went normal with MS treatments according to his neurologist’s advice. Three years went by and he found out he had brain cancer one day when he went out to renew his prescription and eventfully decided to take another MRI scan of his brain.  That was followed by visits to a neurosurgeon and helped Shawn get the brain surgery done upon talking to a fellow survivor who told him her story of dealing with brain cancer. The family then went on to support with chemo and radiation therapy whilst the medication kept the side-effects mild.

These stories imbibe in us that our lives are worth the risk of cancer treatment, however monumental the challenges that come with it may see. Support and love from the loved ones matter the most, while access to medical help and second opinions have shown to change the lives of many cancer survivors.

*Changed names to protect identities.