"Spirit of Hope" Award Acceptance Speech

In 2004, Sharon Osbourne was given the "Spirit of Hope" award by the Women's Guild, a philanthropic support group to Cedars-Sinai. The text of Sharon's acceptance speech follows.

The "Spirit of Hope" Award

I want to start by thanking everyone here tonight for honoring me with the "Spirit of Hope" award. Spirit is the most appropriate word for what I found after I was diagnosed with cancer. I was a woman who had everything: an adoring husband, healthy children, I was a successful business woman, an Emmy award winning producer of my own TV show; life was perfect, nothing could touch me or so I thought. But to be truthful, I was an arrogant, self-absorbed woman who thought I knew everything. And then cancer came and kicked me in the ass! Believe it or not, it changed my life for the better. It made me muster up my spirit and my hope to better myself, both physically and mentally.

I really think that I can look at myself now and say I'm a much nicer person than I was before my diagnosis. I took my life for granted, I took people for granted, I didn't truly appreciate the gift of life or what it meant to have your health. Why did it take me being faced with the prospect of maybe losing my life before I embraced my life?

It was quite ironic that when I was diagnosed, I happened to have a film crew living with me at the time. After a lot of thought, I realized that maybe we could put a positive spin on this and document my treatment so people would see that going through chemo is not that bad. I also wanted to show kids that when they are faced with the situation that they may lose their parent, it doesn't always have to be fatal.

At the end of the day, I chose to go public with my cancer because I was so ignorant about the WORD "cancer" and I wanted to try to educate people about this disease. I honestly had no idea that women could even get colon cancer and I thought of myself as an educated woman. Well, in this case, I wasn't, so I wanted other men and women to know how prevalent this disease is and if I could find my spirit to fight, anyone can.

Cancer does not only affect the patient it affects the entire family. Early on in my treatment I could see what this disease was doing to my loved ones. My husband had a mental breakdown, my son chose to turn to drugs, and my daughters were so terrified they chose to isolate themselves. Each time I would have a set back in my treatment, I would see the fear in my children's eyes and that would make me fight even harder.

The thought of chemo had always terrified me, I honestly thought it was the worst thing that any person would ever have to endure. But it turned out to be an enlightening experience. Im not going to talk about the medical side effects; all of us in the room know what they are. But it gave me the opportunity to meet so many incredible people: men and women who dedicate their lives to healing the sick; other patients who were going through the same treatment as myself, how strong they were and seeing their spirit shining through; and strangers from all over the world, who wrote to me giving me their support, that's when I realized how amazing people can be.

I think it's important that people are educated about cancer. That way fear won't overwhelm hope. And as long as hope survives, we'll survive. Thank you again for this wonderful award.

Good night.

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