My wonderful pastor has a saying that I listen to over and over again. He says each of our faith journeys is a fingerprint of that person. No other person has the same experiences, beliefs or goals and is indeed unique. Our shape, the development of who we are, how we feel and how we react is different. Your experiences are very different than mine. Just take a second to look at your finger and realize that each line, squiggle and pattern is yours alone.

It strikes me how true this is of our cancer journey. People often contact me after I write about a remission, a new chemo or treatment. We all need to support and talk to each other. We certainly all have the same emotions, reactions and stages of grief when diagnosed. However, each of us copes in different ways, and our bodies do not react the same way. I hide myself in writing, others totally retreat, and still, others join the survivor to survivor program. None of us is wrong.

I try to explain to each person who contacts me that with my immune deficiency and type of cancer, the same treatment for me may not work for someone else. One person may become ghastly ill from chemo and another patient is relatively OK. This is why I think being an oncologist is one of the hardest, yet most exciting jobs in the world. They have to figure out each patient’s medical history, health, lifestyle and our attitudes toward treatment. They also need to consider the type of cancer we have and how far along the cancer is. This is long before prescribing any treatment.

The positive about this is we are each special; the fingerprint on our hand, the fingerprint of cancer the fingerprint of faith. This makes us quirky and exclusive. Cherish that and realize you do not have to be like anyone else. You can be different in every way — ranging from your reactions, to emotions to side effects to results. You are YOU! Take pride in your own journey your own faith and your own fingerprint that no one else in the world will ever share.

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