High Flyin’ Survivor

kimskydiving3[1]We recently had the opportunity to take some time to get to know NCMLS friend, Kim Collum McGinnis and hear how a Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia diagnosis has changed her life.

It was May 2009 when she received the diagnosis of CML and found herself spiraling downward into one of the toughest times in her life. Kim shares it best. “At first, when I was [newly] diagnosed, I was in a state of mind that words could never explain. I became bitter towards life and people. I became antisocial. But when I realized that I was just feeling sorry for myself, and wasn’t actually LIVING MY LIFE, I decided to make changes.” With the help of family and friends, Kim began a journey of discovery that has taken her to place where she now approaches every day as a new adventure.

Kim says,  I have an amazing family that loves me. I need them as much as they need me!” An active mother of three kids (Kimberly, Kory, and Jacey), Kim is also an amazing MaMaw to Savannah and Kamryn, and looks forward to welcoming another granddaughter this October. Those tight family bonds have been instrumental in Kim’s ability to look ahead to the future and live her life with purpose. Kim’s mom, Gail and her three siblings (Karen, Krystal, and Keith) have been there for her at every turn and she says she could not have come this far without their love and support. Today, Kim describes her life as “on call 24/7” helping with her grandchildren and more.

Just recently, on May 26, Kim celebrated her 50th birthday. She also celebrated five years of living with CML. These two benchmark occasions prompted her to celebrate her life doing something far beyond her “normal” routine – she became a first-time skydiver!  “This was the most EPIC, peaceful, and blissful moment of my life!”, she shares even though many of her family and friends thought she had “lost her marbles!” Even so, they supported her and understood. Kim says that “when I made that jump, I released everything that I had let hold me back from actually living my life.”

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Today, Kim says she feels fantastic and that living with CML and turning 50 are the beginnings of a new chapter in life and one that she plans on living with purpose! “I hope to inspire others that are living with CML [and be living proof] that life does not stop unless you allow it. Get up and Get Busy Living Life, I promise, you will love it!  It took me awhile to live by those words myself!!”

As our time and interview came to a close, Kim shared these three, personal life lessons:

1. “Love the life you’re living.” While it may seem impossible at times, look for the silver linings that come every day.
2. “Life is too short to be anything but happy.”, and
3. “Falling down is a part of life, but getting back up is LIVING!”

So, we’ve learned what survivorship means to Kim. What does it mean to you?

Sunday, June 1 marks the 27th Annual  National Cancer Survivor’s Day. This day serves as a day of celebration and survivorship for many individuals.

How do YOU plan to celebrate survivorship? Are you planning to do something to recognize or “celebrate” the day? We’d like to hear from you? Let us know! We invite you to submit your story and/or photographs of how you have, or plan to celebrate. We’ll work to share them via this blog and the NCMLS website.

Here’s to never giving up!