Today is my 7 year diagnosiversary. I was told, seven years ago today, that I had cancer.
It was not a good day.
Today is a much better day. But I had some serious doubts, seven years ago, that I would even be around to write this.
For the last few days, I've been thinking about Stuart Scott. He was a personality on the all-sports television network ESPN, and he died on Sunday, January 4 from cancer at age 49. It wasn't lymphoma (not that it matters), and he'd been fighting it, on and off, since November 2007.
Maybe I've been thinking about him because he was diagnosed just a couple of months before I was.
Maybe I've been thinking about him because he was just a couple of years older than me, and his two kids were almost the same ages as my sons.
It isn't really Stuart Scott's death that I've been thinking about. I rarely think about death.
It's his life that matters.
He said as much in a speech. Last July, during the ESPYs, a sports award ceremony, he was given the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. It is named after Jim Valvano, a college basketball coach who inspired millions, and who also inspired a foundation to raise money for cancer research, with a speech at the same awards ceremony 11 years earlier.
In his speech, Stuart Scott referred to something that Jimmy V had said in his speech, calling Jimmy V's words "the seven most poignant words ever uttered in any speech, anywhere: Don't give up. Don't ever give up."
[There's that magical number seven again.....]
In the days after Stuart Scott died, a lot of people quoted something else he said in his speech:
"When you die, it does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live."
I think that's what I've been thinking most about for the last few days. Not death. I've been thinking about life. That's where our focus needs to be. How we live. Why we live. And the manner in which we live.
As I said, I saw lots of people quote those few words from Stuart Scott. But no one quoted what came right after, when he said:
"....So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down, and rest, and let somebody else fight for you. That's also very, very important. I can't do this 'Don't give up' thing by myself."
That's the part everyone ignored, but maybe the part that's even more important.
Because if we hold up Stuart Scott and Jimmy V as heroes (and we should), as models for how to live with cancer, then we only see individuals. What we don't see is all of the people who support and help and love them. Those are the people that Stuart Scott spent the rest of his speech talking about: his doctors, his co-workers, his friends, his family.
I wouldn't have gotten this far without those people -- not physically or emotionally. No one does. So don't forget to thank all of those people, too.
Seven is a great number. It's almost universally great, with lots of
cultures giving it lucky or magical qualities. We use the phrase "lucky number seven."
There are seven colors in a rainbow. The ancient Greeks had the Seven
Sages. The ancient world had seven wonders. There are seven pillars of
the House of Wisdom. There are seven corporal works of mercy, seven
spiritual works of mercy, and seven virtues. There are seven Chakras.
Seven gods of Good Fortune. The movie The Magnificent Seven had one of the best theme songs ever (though The Seven Samurai, the film it was based on, was even better). Harry Potter even wore number 7 for his Quidditch team. You can't get more magical than that.
So I have good feelings about this particular diagnosiversary.
And I think this is going to be a good year. I'll have a new oncologist soon. It looks like some fantastic treatments are in the pipeline. There will be lots to write about on Lympho Bob.
And, once again, thank you all for reading. I always say that I'd write this blog even if I was the only one reading it, but I'm glad to have you here, giving me some incentive.
(Oh, yeah -- I almost forgot. It's been seven years since I was diagnosed, but that means today is five years since I had my first Rituxan treatment. I guess that makes five a pretty magical number, too.)