I don’t think one day is enough to celebrate & honor our cancer survivors. Hence why we at TheOncoPT are stretching our National Cancer Survivors Day celebration throughout all of June.
A cancer survivor is a person who has or had cancer – once a person receives a diagnosis, they are a survivor. Through treatment, after treatment has ended, once a survivor, always a survivor. And I have seen one thing for sure during my brief time as an oncology PT: our community has a beautiful way of rising up around survivors, from the moment they are diagnosed, throughout the rest of their lives to love & support them. I think that mentality is part of why I desired to be a part of the oncology community.
The other part of my why is my Granny. I’ve alluded to her briefly, but to give you a brief overview: she was diagnosed with her first bout of breast cancer shortly before my 16th birthday. I remember Mom sitting Corissa (my sister) & me down to break the news & discuss what would be coming our way in the next weeks & months. I don’t remember a lot of what she said, but I remember this: I was so mad that Mom would be gone to Iowa over my 16th birthday. Yep, that would be my selfish teenage self – let’s not get into those years. Now of course, I have a very different perspective: I am amazed at how my family, our friends, & even my parents’ co-workers rallied around my Granny & our family to make sure she got the best treatment & care possible. Two more bouts of cancer later, those amazing people came together again & again to take care of her & us. It’s incredible to think about.
Now that I’ve been working in this population for a while, I’ve met & learned about more people who have experienced cancer that I’m close to: my godmother, most of my patients, & tons of community members that I encounter through various hobbies & activities. It’s a far-reaching disease, but I think the community has a greater reach. I know now that’s my why: I want to be part of the community that rises up to surround the survivor, from diagnosis & beyond.
For a while earlier this spring, I was questioning why I was doing this. I had several patients who learned around the same time they had progressions in their disease, meaning that death was not far off – it was probably the emotionally heaviest period of time I’ve had so far in my practice. It was wearing on me to head back in, day after day. That slump passed before long, but I think I hit a mentality reset this weekend. My pastor discussed in his sermon that God doesn’t look at ‘what’ we are, but ‘who’ we are. I’m not an oncology physical therapist – I’m a part of this beautiful community. That’s my why. My why is linked to my who, not my what, not my title.
Those are my musings for this week. What I want from you is this: what’s your why? Why do you work/serve/love the oncology community? Why do you do what you do? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org & let me know – I can’t wait to hear from you!