July 12, 2021

“It Ain’t About How Hard You Hit”—Reflections on the 4th Anniversary of my Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

I know it can come across as cliché and trite: the Rocky statue.

But today marks the fourth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis, and I’m going to risk the trite cliché in favor of commemorating the milestone. No, it’s not 20 years; it’s not even the five-year marker.

But each day since I have heard the words, “It’s cancer,” I’ve fought. Not because I wanted to, but because life—daily, monotonous, tedious, heartbreaking, sometimes, life—required I do so.

Just like any survivor out there who has heard the words, “It’s cancer,” and has had to deal with what that means.

So, I did trite; I did cliché.

Some would even say I did cheesy.

My husband and I went to the Rocky statue first thing this morning. In between the Philly heat and the Philly tourism, this was probably the best approach. We could take photos, avoiding crowds, while also not bursting into heat stroke at the same time.

So, Hubby and I went to the area where the statue resided. I was, once again, reminded how short I am. But the Rocky statue dwarfs anybody, so I didn’t feel too inferior for long.

And, after all, I was alive four years since the diagnosis day. Surely, that can give me some height.

We took our touristy pictures. Yes, I did the cheesy pose, the one I include here, with my sentiments. Yes, like thousands of others, I raised my arms in triumph. I am still here, still breathing. Even with a pandemic, to boot. Why shouldn’t I commemorate, celebrate that?

Cancer survivors have been battered, bloodied, and bruised, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, relationally.

Basically, we’ve been punched in life any way a person can be punched.

And, with that mindset, as I stood in front of Rocky early this morning, I read the plaque at the base of the statue:

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Let me include the more complete line from the famous “Rocky” film:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows… I don’t care how tough you are—it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Trite? Cliché? Cheesy? Or reality?

Sometimes, cancer survivor or no cancer survivor, we cannot hit or punch worth an effective damn. Sometimes, we just find ourselves “taking it.” And that can make us feel like pathetic losers.

But stop for a moment; I challenge you. Take stock of all of your punches, whether you hit back or not. You are still here, aren’t you? There’s victory in that.

How many “death words” has life tried to get you to believe? And yet, you are still here!

There’s nothing trite, cliché, or cheesy about that. It’s miraculous, life-affirming, gold belt/title championship stuff.

Within the past four years, I have lost a lot, cried a lot, been in pain a lot, and wondered if I have only been defeated a lot. But I have also survived a lot. And sometimes, when you get right down to it in life, survival is thriving!

Try to see it that way in your own life: survival is thriving, championship thriving.

And we all deserve our own statues.


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