I'm now entering my sixth year as a colon cancer survivor. In 2013, my ascending colon was removed (Stage I); in 2016, the left lobe of my liver was removed due to recurrence and included 16 rounds of chemo. I'm a writer and artist from the Red Lake Ojibwe Nation in Northern Minnesota. My cancer journey has provided me with the opportunity to serve as an advocate for bringing awareness of colon cancer screening and prevention in the Native American community.
Whether it’s me or someone else, we need to hear more about this disease. The word should not be a stigma. Choosing not to listen will not make this disease go away. Choosing not to listen will only increase the cancer rates among our people. Those of us who speak about cancer do not bring a message of death – we bring a message of life and hope. And therein lies the reason for our survival and the survival of our people.
We Are Lanterns In The Darkest Night
We are lanterns in the darkest night;
Our soul-spirits shimmer in the winds that swirl around us.
We are but flames of hope amid a force that seeks to extinguish us;
Our faith in the unseen lights the shadows.
We are the beacons for the unguided;
Our light illuminates the long journey’s path.
Newly-kindled flames join the age-old flames of those who have passed homeward before us.
Together, we are the beams of promise.
We are Luminaria.