First things first: Fuck Cancer.
This disease has entered the lives of many and has taken loved ones away, but fortunately, all stories involving cancer don’t have an unfortunate ending. Sterling K. Brown has partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb to tell survivors’ stories in a series designed to illuminate the triumphs and challenges of life after a cancer diagnosis.
The series, Survivorship Today: What It’s Like to Live with Cancer, explores stories of individuals who have experienced lasting physical, emotional and social effects from cancer to build a greater understanding of, and draw attention to, survivorship-related issues.
This is an issue that hits close to Brown’s life. In 2004, his uncle Sonny passed away, six months after his diagnosis. It was an incident that devastated his family. In a heartfelt moment, Brown shared that people are now living longer after their diagnosis and he credits that to the amazing research that has been done with regards to the disease. Brown praises the research and medical advancement, but wants many to know that “just because you are cancer-free doesn’t mean that you’re out of the woods.”
After one survives a traumatic experience such as this, their lives are forever changed and the next stages of existence are as critical as surviving the affliction. With this partnership, Brown and Bristol-Myers Squibb have created a space where survivors can share their stories and build a community that shows them they’re not alone in this fight.
“There is no strength in solitude, there’s strength in community,” Brown affirmed after he spoke highly of the communal aspects of experiencing cancer. “Often times, a lot of what comes next is as important or as daunting as surviving the disease itself,” he added, noting that in the grips of the disease, you don’t feel the same or act the same.
This partnership is about finding community and sharing your stories of what life is like and encourage other people to come out of hiding. Many communities share the perception that nothing good comes from talking about bad situations because talking about the negative makes it real, but Brown wants to remind survivors that talking is a way to heal and process, so you can move to the other side of what life has to offer you.
“People need to find one another so they don’t feel like the odd man out,” he says.
While Brown is out in the world helping give voice to some who might feel voiceless, he also is making sure he’s taking good care of himself. “A few years ago I told my wife I want to be a centenarian,” Brown shared. He continues by saying “my father passed away at age forty-five and my uncle died in his early sixties, and we as black men have the lowest life expectancy, and I’m adamant in changing that fact and not being part of the statistic.”
When he’s not in front of the camera making you cry—which Brown claims is not his goal—he’s meditating, eating healthy and trying to abstain from the sugars. Brown wants his viewers to look at him and be inspired and to know that his healthy lifestyle is a possibility for them as well.
People need to find one another so that they don’t feel like the odd man out. Survivorship Today is making sure that the sense of community is strongly felt and that there can be healing in numbers. Reach one, teach one. Namaste.