Monday, August 30, 2010

Hope Has a Face

Cancer has touched everyone in one way or another. Some of us (me included) are unfortunate enough to have had to deal with the agony of the diagnosis and the pain and discomfort of surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy, on a first-hand basis. Others of us have gone through it with someone we love.

In an excerpt from my book, On the Other Side: The Journey of a Cancer Survivor, I reveal some of the pain that a diagnosis may unleash in your life.

"I used to think that the type of cancer we had separated us from each other, but I feel differently now. I agree that we may undergo different treatments if we are diagnosed with colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, or Hodgkin's. We may have different outlooks on our life expectancy. Some may undergo surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or some combination of these. But, we all share commonalities that band us together for life. We are brothers and sisters, joined not by genetics but by life experiences.

We all remember what it felt like when we were told that we had a cancerous mass growing inside our body. We know what it's like to feel fear that is so palpable that you taste it. We empathize with the rigors associated with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. We understand how devastating this disease can be, not only for us, but also for our family and friends. And for those of us that have been fortunate enough to kill the beast, we know what it's like to be a survivor, complete with all the ensuing positives and negatives.

Yes, we are part of an elite club. It's because we've been there. We know what it's like. We understand."

So, it's especially nice when someone puts a positive spin on cancer. Jigsaw, a Milwaukee creative agency, devised an interactive exhibit at St. Vincents Regional Cancer Center. Upwards of 7,000 guests were given the opportunity to directly interact with a 45′ x 7′ rear-projecting interactive wall by writing what the word HOPE means to them. The wall became a living, breathing organism.

At the same time, they encouraged people to tweet what they felt HOPE meant or add their thoughts to their "Hope Is" website. The words and phrases offered up by people were as far ranging as the diagnoses and treatment plans they underwent. Here are a few I particularly like:

Hope is a lifetime of springs.
Hope is finding inspiration in unexpected places.
Hope is making a child smile.
Hope is getting better so I can play with my grandchildren.
Hope is the look I see in her eyes.
Hope is the warm sun on my face.
Hope is the seeds you plant.

If you'd like to read a bit more on this initiative, check out Fuel Your Creativity's write-up at

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