This past Saturday, my mom and I walked for the seventh time in one of many of the American Cancer Society’s Relays for Life. The first few years, I walked because I wanted to support my mom’s effort to help raise money to defeat cancer and because I had friends who were living with and dying of the disease.

For the past three years, I have walked because I know personally what it means to fight cancer.

Saturday, I walked to give others hope.

When I was living with cancer and undergoing treatments, and even in the first several months after the cancer was declared gone, news of someone dying of cancer could put me into an emotional tailspin for days. Back in July 2008, just days before I began my second round of radiation, I wrote about how helpful it would be if I could hear the news about people who were diagnosed with cancer and hadn’t died, people who were living with cancer.

At nearly three years cancer free, I still need that kind of good news now and then. But I recently realized, I AM that good news to others who are battling this disease. Especially as a survivor of late stage cancer, my very life can bring the courage others need to see that they are not a statistic and that God’s plan for each of us is more complex and creative than any case study.

That’s why recently I’ve been spending lots of time just “being alive” around a very close family member who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s why I continue to write about cancer even though I am finally not thinking about it every single day. And that’s why on Saturday, I came early and stayed late and proudly wore my purple survivor t-shirt all day long at the Relay.

I don’t know the future. Though my doctor’s prognosis is optimistic for remaining cancer-free, there are no guarantees. However, whether you are fighting cancer yourself or caring for someone who is, I can tell you again today: I had cancer, the treatments were hard, some days life seemed grim, but I am alive and well.

There is hope.