What is cancer? Why does the word cause such fear? Why have a day of recognition for it?


Cancer was named after the crab because the finger-like spreading projections from a cancer called to mind the shape of a crab. The Latin word for crab is cancer.

Galen (130-200 AD)used the term oncos (Greek for swelling) to describe tumors. Oncos is the root word for oncology.

During World War II, those soldiers exposed to mustard gas developed toxic bone marrow suppression. Chemical nitrogen mustard was found to work against a cancer of the lymph nodes called lymphoma. This laid foundation for several new drugs that could be used against cancers.

The later part of the 20th century also saw the development of targeted therapies like Herceptin.


Cancer is viewed as an enemy and the fear is that there is no cure. Physicians use the term remission to describe when there is no evidence of disease for 5 years.

In March of this year, I will celebrate my 5th year and be considered to be in remission. I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. It has recurred twice. I’ve had chemotherapy and radiation treatments in addition to two surgeries.

As each of us cancer warriors completes our final round of chemotherapy, we ring a bell. The staff stands around applauding our victory.

Let the bells ring around the world today for all the cancer survivors. 16.9 million cancer survivors are alive in the US today out of a population of 332,915,073. Heart disease was the leading cause of death

Some inspiring words of wisdom :

“Difficult roads can lead to beautiful destinations.”
— Kia Wynn, oral cancer survivor

“There’s always hope beyond what you see.”
— Cora Connor, kidney cancer caregiver

“It’s possible not just to survive, but to thrive and to live a healthy, wonderful life again.”
 Erika Evans, leukemia survivor

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”
— Leslie Medley-Russell, ovarian cancer survivor

In celebrating World Cancer Day, receive a signed copy of my book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir for just $5.00. Send me a message with your information to (All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research)

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If you were to create a quilt with each patch representing your life, what would it look like? Would you have the patches represent the lows as well as the highs of your life? Would it show mistakes or failures? What colors would you choose? Would you include lessons you learned, role models who influenced you, or life-changing events?

My life quilt’s background is of many colors. My patches include a central patch with a heart representing my wonderful husband. I have a square of just black, which represents the child abuse. It is small now though it was quite large earlier in life. There are squares for my 3 sons, 8 grandchildren, and 1 for my great grandson. I danced (not always smoothly or easily) through the storm of cancer. Earning my master’s degree was an important goal that impacted my career. Aunt Arleigh has always been an inspiration and there for me. The four stars represent steps in my growing faith and spiritual path from childhood to now.

Writing this blog stimulated my imagination and many memories. Have you begun to design the quilt of your life? I encourage you to do so because it will put your life in perspective, give you a symbolic way to look at it, and for others to perhaps learn something new about you. Just know you can always add or take off a patch. No matter what, the quilt is YOU; that special gift from God.