Cancer survivors show greatest character during darkest times

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and each year all the newspapers in our group produce a four-week series of stories relating to breast cancer in addition to a special one-time section in the Daily Journal.
Another regular feature each year is the luncheon sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County and the Jones Clinic.
Although strides are made from time to time toward treating cancer, it remains a devastating illness. And while awareness of breast cancer is very high, we probably should do more to focus on other common forms such as lung, colon and prostate cancer.
But the programs just described do an excellent job of informing the public about the many facets of dealing with breast cancer and its effects on the patient and those around her or him.
As we have written stories and talked with survivors and the families of victims, one cannot help noticing something.
That is the character all these cancer survivors exhibit in various ways.
We have talked with dozens of cancer survivors in addition to family members and medical professionals, and it is remarkable how these patients, faced with life-threatening illness that requires often-debilitating treatment and an uncertain future, still show strength, resilience, faith, optimism and even humor.
Part of this is due to the strong support they receive from family, friends and the medical professionals they are dealing with. It is obvious, listening to them, that cancer patients really are family to the medical staff and to fellow survivors.
Like any community, ours has its shortcomings. But it is no less than amazing how the people of Union County step up to help those with life-threatening illnesses. They may be helping family members or friends, or just as well may be helping total strangers. That’s something to take pride in.
At the core, though, this strength has to come from within each person who must deal with cancer – call it faith.
This may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but we should not forget to recognize and thank the caregivers and other supporters. In some ways, what they do is as important as the purely medical treatment, and it speaks well for our community and people that they do so much.
And we should applaud, appreciate and be inspired by the victims for their astounding strength and the remarkable examples of faith and optimism they exhibit. Union County is populated with some amazing people.
J. Lynn West