Reframing Cancer Survivorship
Today is Cancer Survivors Day, and I find myself revisiting this post from 2012 and feeling much the same way three years later. For a more up-to-date post, see this Healthline article which features some great quotes and a terrific discussion in the comment section. What are your thoughts on this day?
Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer
Today, on National Cancer Survivors Day, I am asking the question who are cancer survivors and is it really necessary to set aside a day to celebrate survivorship?
The terms cancer survivor and cancer survivorship have different meanings to different people, and how we refer to this growing population of people living with cancer has stirred some controversy. Here is just a sample of some of those in the blogosphere for whom the term survivor is an uncomfortable label:
I don’t like labels very much. I tend to avoid them whenever I can. The survivor label is one that makes me uncomfortable for various reasons ~ Nancy’s Point
I am conflicted about the term survivor. To me, a survivor is a person who has been utterly victimized, who is powerless and suffering at the hands of something or someone that is about as close to pure darkness as exists…
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I personally do not like to be called a “Survivor.” Part of it is because it minimizes all my other efforts I contributed to overcome challenges in my life, prior to cancer. Another reason is because everyone in my situation would have probably done the same things, if they wanted to live. They would have taken their treatments, listened to their Drs., etc. Not to mention, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I was lucky my body was able to handle it all.
Are we really “finished” when it comes to cancer though? I certainly don’t feel done and probably never will because I still carry my body with me. To me the word “survivor” suggest it’s all finished.
This labeling excludes those who don’t survive cancer and almost suggests they were responsible for their situation. None of us have any control over the outcome when it comes to cancer.
Creating these kinds of labels is what separates us and in some way creates competition too (and GUILT). I believe we are all in this together.
Everyone is a survivor of life.