I have finally made it.

I am a survivor at last.

According to various international guidelines, one is not a cancer survivor until five years from the last day of one’s last treatment. For me, that was 3 April 2016.

Passing that milestone matters. I notice in the way I think, the way I breathe, that something has shifted. To commemorate my day, I replaced the Buddhist prayer flags on my back fence. Readers of The Cancer Olympics will recognize those flags as the evocative, numinous symbols of a longed-for outcome. They were tattered and spent. When I replaced them with fresh colourful flags, I did in the name of my brother-in-law who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer; now, the prayers flow out to him, and to all who continue to live and to fight.

And another very different achievement has come my way. The Cancer Olympics is the winner of the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Inspiration Category! The award is from the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs. And yes, fitting to the book’s title, it is a gold medal.

This make the fifth literary award for The Cancer Olympics, my true story of a fight for survival, medical justice, and fair government drug policy in my province of Nova Scotia. As the book grows in recognition, I grow too. I have spoken at public events, on radio shows, on podcasts, in lectures, and conferences, and in patient safety forums. Each time is a big challenge and each time is a small victory to share my story of “the perfect storm of medical mismanagement.” By posting the first chapter online, I hope to make the world a little safer from serious medical error.

Because I am still alive to tell it, five years later.

This blog post originally appeared on The Cancer Olympics. It is reprinted with permission.