What does survivorship mean to you?

263053-man-vs-wild-man-vs-wild-face-to-face26With television shows like Man vs. Wild, Get Out Alive, and Worst Case Scenario, writer and adventurer Bear Grylis knows all about braving the roughest and most treacherous aspects of nature. While he may be known more for his dramatic adventures on the Discovery Channel, his acquaintance with survivorship goes far beyond the 39 – 42 minutes (sans commercials) of each television episode.  You see “Bear” a.k.a. Edward Michael Grylis served three years with the Special Air Service, a special forces unit of the British army. While he was serving, he was involved in a parachuting accident over Southern Africa, breaking his back in three places.

Despite the accident and severity of his injury, he went on to become, at age 23, one of the youngest people to ever summit Mount Everest.   When asked about survival, he says “Survival can be summed up in three words – never give up. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.”

So, what does surviving and “survivorship” mean to you? Is it, simply, “slipping through the jaws of death” and living to tell about it or is there more to it than that? Two synonyms for the word “survive” stand out as words we can learn from – those words being “persist” and “succeed.” But can we succeed without persisting?  No! As Bear says, “That’s the heart of it really.” Surviving means persisting, day in and day out, even when we think we can’t go on. It can be hard sometimes to continue when weighed down with the issues that we face. Whether it be dealing with side effects, multiple doctor’s appointments, or financial pressures, surviving is something that must become part of our everyday routine. While “basic” survival – living for members of our Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) community has been revolutionized and made possible with the advent of drugs like Gleevec, Sprycel, Tasigna, and others, is that good enough? While the world says “yes.” those in the community who live with the disease know that surviving means SO much more!

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. They mark the day by sharing their stories, bringing greater awareness to the public about the issues faced when living daily with cancer, and more. Some will mark the day (or their own special day – perhaps the anniversary of a diagnosis) with a party or special activity, others will embark on a new adventure or even choose to move through the day without special emphasis. There are no right or wrong ways to recognize one’s own personal survivorship so the pressure’s off to perform. All of us have different ways in which we “survive” our own personal situation and we find encouragement and inspiration from seeing how others do the same.

With that said, 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 survivorship. We’ll work to share them via this blog and the NCMLS website.