I am what you would not aspire to be – a long-term cancer survivor. Until you have cancer.

April 1 marks 18 years since my diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme, at the time of my diagnosis considered a fatal disease by many.

Yes, three short letters – GBM. While I am incredibly blessed to no longer have any sign of GBM and have not since 2001, GBM has been and always will be part of my narrative.

When Cancer Hope Network started seeking out people to share their stories I felt compelled to respond. Working with Sarah she and I thought providing content for a blog was a good way to start.

Now comes the challenge. Why would anyone care to read what I write?

Telling my story is a start but there needs to be something more, a lot more to make it worth my while to write but more to the point worth your time to read. If you have cancer or care for someone who does, you spend your time wisely so you do not waste time on things you get little benefit from.

So, why might this be worth your time?

In my professional career, my focus was always on customer service. And working for a state government and a university I found it was not as elusive a concept as one might think.

Actually it is easier than it seems. It starts with respect and it includes a lot of listening and paying attention. Boiled down it is this – it is not about you. At the end of the day you may feel good about yourself and what you did but that is only a byproduct. Did you make a difference for someone else? Did you provide what others needed? Did you put yourself into it? If no, what a waste, and worse, what a missed opportunity.

In my blog I want to tell some of my stories but only as they make a broader point that anyone can relate to, not just if they have GBM but anyone who shares a similar perspective.

With cancer, how and what different cancers may affect and how they are diagnosed and treated vary by type of cancer. What all cancer patients share is the human experience with all our thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Nothing prepares you for this, not even if a close relative or your best friend had the same cancer.

SV TomIt reminds me of when I found out I would be a grandfather and people wanted to tell me what it was like. I told them I get that it is great but no one can convey the emotion of being a grandparent. You only understand it by actually experiencing the emotion of being a grandparent. And cancer is much the same. All the stuff you read or hear about having cancer pales in comparison to the emotion. It is your new normal.

So this is my start. I will have served my “customers” if something I write makes you feel better or gives you new information or new insight into your situation.

That would be my reward even if I never meet you or talk to you.

eHOPE features blogs and stories from Support Volunteers like Tom. To be matched with a Support Volunteer of your own, click HERE. Already a CHN volunteer? Want to share your thoughts? Contact Sarah Cassidy – scassidy@cancerhopenetwork.org