Steve Miller / January 28, 2019
Congratulations to my wife, Susan, who yesterday celebrated 20 years as a breast cancer survivor!
On this occasion, all those memories rush back. I can recall every detail of sitting in the hospital waiting room with Susan’s father, waiting for the surgeon to reveal the biopsy results. Life had always been very good to us; Susan had no risk factors for cancer and seemed perfectly healthy. After all, young women have dense fibroid cysts all the time, which are non-cancerous. I was fully expecting favorable news and to move on with our happy life, raising our 2- and 3-year-old daughters.
“I am so very sorry; your wife has cancer. It’s large and aggressive.” Suddenly, I felt transported into a very bad movie. I could see myself walking, one foot after the other, down the hallway to the recovery room where Susan lie sobbing.
Over the next few days, I found myself sleep-walking through a series of tests and more bad news: lymph node involvement, tumor in the lung, stage 4 diagnosis, no cure. What could we possibly do?
In our city, we grapple with chronic, decades-old problems such as crime, education, affordable housing and a lack of economic opportunity. For many in our community, these may seem like life-and-death issues. As a community we wonder what can be done. There’s no silver bullet, no easy solution. It’s a seemingly hopeless situation.
These chronic problems are often described metaphorically as a “cancer,” and addressing these problems is very similar to the challenge Susan and I faced twenty years ago. We must:
- Use all the assets at our disposal.
- Search out latest research and best practices.
- Adopt a holistic approach (traditional methods as well as complementary strategies).
- Leverage community support and resources.
- Consider clinical trials.
- Focus on outcomes and incremental success.
- Innovate: Try new methods when traditional approaches fail.
- Address root causes and prevention.
- Avoid complacency, and stay vigilant even when you think you’re making progress.
- Persevere, even in light of setbacks.
- Remain hopeful.
Maddie and Lucy grew up with a loving mother at their side and Susan is alive today because of the efforts of so many in this community who gave their talents and opened their hearts to us.
Kansas City is a talented and generous city. Together, we can address the chronic issues we face. As mayor, I will tackle these problems as relentlessly as we did Susan’s cancer.
In thanksgiving for twenty years of life,
P.S. Also, please read more about Susan’s story as well as the Kansas City Star feature “Partners in Fight for Life.”