Having been deeply entrenched in sports my entire life, it has helped me to take a competitive approach to most things.

Especially so, in my battle with leukemia.

And every day that I am still here, I feel I have won a battle.

A cancer diagnosis blind-sides you, like a hit from a blitzing linebacker. It rattles you to your core. I think I’m like most cancer survivors. Once the shock of the diagnosis has worn off, you get angry. And you get ready to fight.

Not every day is a win. I learned that quickly, as I guess most people in this situation learn. I hope that every cancer survivor goes to bed each night with the satisfaction that they survived another day. And in my book, that counts as a win. Like coaches tend to say, they aren’t all pretty wins or satisfying wins, but a win is a win. And every cancer survivor, like every coach, knows to take any win they can get.

That’s because wins don’t just happen, whether it’s in sports or in a battle with cancer. It takes planning and it takes teamwork. The planning comes from listening to your doctors and monitoring your health closely every day. You watch for small signs, subtle things, because you want to catch them before they grow into major things.

One of the aspects of the battle that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is teamwork. Nobody battles this alone. We have families, friends, doctors and nurses, and we have wonderful people who are concerned about our well being.

I had to be convinced to write the first article about my cancer diagnosis several years ago. Cancer is a very private issue. Now I am glad I wrote that article. People have been so kind and supportive. It seems every week I have someone asking about my health. And I never want to take that support for granted. It has fortified my will to fight. It has helped me to understand that there are people who care.

For those who don’t know my story, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in December, 2008. I had been hospitalized with a kidney stone. The doctors said it was the largest kidney stone they’d ever seen, which is not a distinction you want to have.

While I was in Westfields Hospital Emergency Room, an observant lab tech there noticed an abnormality in my blood counts. That led to my diagnosis.

Since then, I’ve gone through chemotherapy three times, but the success wasn’t permanent. In January, 2015, I was placed on a new drug that had just been approved by the FDA, Imbruvica. It has provided incredible results. I am an example of the need for continued medical research, because Imbruvica has allowed me to lead an almost normal life. It has stabilized my white blood cell counts and I would love to see every cancer patient be able to return to the feeling of a normal life.

I am honored to be asked to be an honorary chair for this year’s Relay for Life. I am not comfortable doing public speaking. If there’s anything I have a phobia about, this is probably it. But the need to get the word out about cancer research is as important now as ever. There are researchers around the world who are making breakthroughs and we need to keep fighting this fight.

Anyone who would like to donate to the New Richmond Relay for Life effort can do so by following this link: https://secure.acsevents.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=RFL_CY16_particip...

You can donate to any team or any way you’d like. If you’d like to donate to our team, it is named “Nanny’s Newsies.” The team is named after Patty Berger’s mom, who we all know as Nanny. Patty is the captain of our team. Her mom has survived cancer for more than 20 years and is in another battle.

This is why we need to keep fighting this fight. If you don’t know someone who is battling cancer, you have or you will. My oldest brother was recently diagnosed with the same strain of leukemia that I have. We need to raise money for research now, so more people will never have to experience a doctor giving them news that they never want to hear.

Dave Newman has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the New Richmond News since November 1988.