Carl Mays: Where there is cancer, there are survivors

May. 29, 2014 @ 12:45 PM

Sunday, June 1, 2014, is National Cancer Survivors Day. A recent notice in The Mountain Press encouraged everyone to be aware of this important day, and to go beyond the awareness by encouraging survivors and showing appreciation to these warriors who have battled the dreaded disease. Those of us who know such survivors and have knowledge of what they have gone through and continue to go through can certainly understand why they deserve encouragement and a show of appreciation.

Seeing The Mountain Press notice caused me to pull from my files one of wife Jean’s Love-In-Action sheets that she distributed through our Love-In-Action Sunday school class for many years. The edition I took from my files is dated March 10, 1996. It contains something that I am sure has appeared in numerous printed publications and across the Internet. But it is so timely that it certainly bears sharing again. It is titled What Cancer Cannot Do:

“It cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot destroy peace. It cannot kill friendship. It cannot suppress memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot invade the soul. It cannot steal eternal life. It cannot conquer the Spirit!”

I know survivors throughout the county, state, nation and world who have reason to be recognized, honored and celebrated for their enduring love, everlasting hope, unshakeable faith, great peace, ongoing friendship, iron-clad memories, outstanding courage, unwavering soul, undeniable belief in eternal life, and unconquerable Spirit!. These survivors are family members, friends, business associates, clients, fellow speakers and writers, and people I have met along the way.

Coming to mind are Martha, who was told she would forever have cancer in her system, and she continues to do the things she needs to do to successfully keep her attacker at bay. Cary, who a couple of years ago was given little chance of surviving, and whose presence was on many prayer lists, told me just yesterday that he has been declared cancer-free. Alan, an athletic coach/teacher, continues to demonstrate daily to players and students what it means to work and overcome challenges. Betty, a tough old bird who could give Methuselah a run for his money, just keeps on motoring along and enjoying life, not realizing she oughta’ be dead by now.

And then there are my brother Ralph (“much” older brother, I like to remind him) and wife Kathy. Ralph retired quite a number of years ago as superintendent of Humboldt (TN) City Schools. Kathy retired more recently as Superintendent of Chester County Schools, one of Humboldt’s nearby neighbors. In the past few years they both have been diagnosed with cancers. But much like Betty (maybe not quite as old as Betty), they have been tough. They, too, have shown all the character traits mentioned in Jean’s 1996 Love-In-Action sheet. I’m very proud of what they have done and continue to do. Just recently, they served as co-leaders in the Chester County Relay for Life program.

I dare not refer to any of the above as cancer victims. Rather, as the June 1 celebration signifies, they are Survivors. Just as Hank Williams Jr. sang “A Country Boy Can Survive,” these folks and numerous others vigorously harmonize “We Can Survive!”

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. Email or visit