For now that seems to be changing the negative tone of conversations about cancer. Craig noticed how everyone seemed to feel sorry for her after her diagnosis. Every person she saw at the infusion ward was slumped in a chair.
“That’s not the way I’m going to live,” Craig said. “I don’t know whether I have weeks, months, or years, but there’s a better chance of me dying in a car accident than there is of me dying from cancer. I’m just going to keep living.”
She doesn’t like hearing those who’ve died of cancer being described as having “lost their battle” to the disease either.
“In my head, that person won the battle with life,” Craig said. “I’m living with cancer, not dying from it.”
Beverley Austin, a senior community representative for the American Cancer Society, understands that frustration. But with events like the Pinking of the Canal, she’s seeing more community involvement in the fight against cancer, and renewed idealism among survivors.
“People can get down and think we’re not making progress. But overall there’s been a 20-percent drop in cancer-related deaths since 1991,” Austin said. “So there is progress, and now’s the time to make some noise and get even more people to join us.”
Craig is definitely onboard. She volunteers at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center and participates in events like this when asked.
“Cancer doesn’t define me, it’s just part of my life,” Craig said. “It always will be. You just have to live with it. I don’t look at it like I’m dying of cancer. I’m living with it. I’d love to see the conversation change that way.
“Even if I die of cancer, it’s OK. I could die from something else. But while I’m here, I’m going to keep living and helping as much as I can.”