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Human Factor: Survivors, Your Stories Fuel Hope

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In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. This week, “Next Food Network Star” finalist Hans Rueffert shares his battle with gastric cancer. 

The six years following my initial cancer diagnosis have been a complete, blender-spinning blur.

At times, my most recent surgery from back in March feels like a decade ago, yet my first journey under the knife way back in 2005 seems somehow more recent. Keeping a blog was my wife Amy’s idea. In truth, I wasn’t even 100% sure I truly knew what a BLOG was! I thought the term was VLOG…which I suppose is just as arbitrary as BLOG.

At any rate, the first few entries were a cautious, nervous, frightened collection of thoughts describing our baptism into the complicated world of cancer. Sometimes funny, sometimes graphic, always unsure what was waiting around the next corner, we shared our story with the world as it happened, blow by blow. When the details of my many health challenges seem vague, I sometimes read through my own blog entriesand wade back through the thick and tangled memories of that journey.

Eleven surgeries, countless checkups, and several hundred blog entries later, the story continues. I’m always surprised by the diversity and sheer number of readers that the blog attracts. Some pop in to quench their curiosity, some hoping for a light laugh, but others arrive while looking for some serious slivers of hope.

If you do a search for GASTRIC CANCER on your favorite search tool, you’re likely to come away from your computer feeling overwhelmed and even hopeless. But should you somehow land here after having just been diagnosed with GC, you might just feel the tiniest better about your predicament. “If he can beat stomach cancer, why can’t I?” Every time we landed on a survivor’s story, we came away with a freshly forged new link in our chainmail…a thicker coat of armor for the battles ahead.

Success stories are crucial…steep yourself in them, and then BECOME a success story. Even more importantly, share your success story with the world…sing your life! No matter what you’ve overcome in your life, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, every success story can be as contagious as a wide-mouth yawn.

It may not seem all that important right now, and even more to the point, you may not FEEL like writing your story right now, but to someone somewhere, it’s just what they need to hear. Your story may be the tale that fuels the fire of hope that is so crucial for someone facing a cancer diagnosis.

We’re all on this ride together, so don’t try and go on it alone. I can’t make you do it, but I’d be proud if you signed up to mentor or counsel others through support groups like the Anderson Network or Immerman’s Angels. I also work with the Gastric Cancer Fund to do what I can to help others dealing with this disease. Chances are there are local support groups in your area that could use your voice…your story. It’s a powerful thing.

For more information about next food network star. Click here.

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