Why Am I Still Alive? June 5, 2014

Friends and Family,

We just got the results back from my latest 3-month CT scan, and we are once again ecstatic. NO GROWTH - AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By now you're probably saying, "Yea, yea, blah, blah. We were expecting that from you." I can tell you, however, that it NEVER feels like that to either Genevieve or me! For us, it is time to celebrate our quarterly "Gratitude Day." We have every reason in the world to be grateful!

This is different than our DAILY Gratitude Day, only in that today we received terrific news. We celebrate every day because the gift of life is a treasure that could be taken away at any time. It is not an entitlement.

Of course, that's too short to be the end of the story for today. The rest of the story is that I want to ask for your help.

Chaz, a close friend, always asks me great thought-provoking questions. This one, however, is the best. After my last email he replied by asked me why I was living so much longer than the average cancer survivor. "What are you doing differently?"

I gave him my short answer: Attitude, exercise, and the love and support given by an amazing group of family and friends (YOU!). Sensing that there could be more to it, he has asked me the same question many times since then. I offered a couple of more details, but nothing that really added a lot. He wanted an honest, complete answer to a question that, for a lot of reasons, deserves nothing less.

I think there may be more reasons, but I'm not grasping it. I asked Genevieve about this, and she has her own list. I would broadly term many of her ideas as being high on the "woo-woo" scale, but in short I would describe her list as offering me love in every way that she can imagine (including many that I never imagined before this!).

I am continuing to work on my own list, but my list is clearly incomplete. THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN! As I have said before, it takes a whole village to shrink a tumor, so I am asking for your help. Here is the question:

If you have your own ideas about what is keeping me alive, can you please share your thoughts with me?

These ideas may be based on what I have written, or what you have seen directly from me, or what you or others have done for me, or your own ideas. Two words or two pages, whatever it takes / whatever you would like to share. Profound or routine, obvious or subtle, concrete or esoteric, spiritual or blasphemous. With the stakes so high I am trying to keep an open mind, so ALL ideas are welcome - and appreciated.

I plan to compile a list of responses (condensed for brevity) and make the list available to other people. There are many in the cancer community (yes, there is such a community!) who would love to get more ideas about what could keep them alive. In particular, someone close to me has a family member who was just diagnosed a few days ago, and I want very much to be able to offer him something. As you can imagine, many people with cancer are searching everywhere for answers. Your gift would be shared with people trying to find their way. Of course, I will also make use of the list myself, since it will better help me to keep doing what works best, and to stay alive.

Bonus question for those of you who have had cancer: What do you think is working to keep YOU alive?

There is another reason that I want to compile this list and share it. I suspect it will have value to people far beyond just those who have cancer.

If you specifically give your permission I will include your first name, but if you don't I will assume you want your name left out.

On a completely different note: Many people said that they enjoyed seeing my personal view of how "CAT scans" work. My friend Deb then inspired me to put together an expose' on "lab results." Yes, my sense of humor has literally gone to the dogs. You can get a fresh perspective on lab results as well as seeing past emails at http://dannscancerchronicles.blogspot.com.