WHEN AM I A CANCER SURVIVOR?
CANCER SURVIVOR WEEK
YOU ARE A SURVIVOR
Cancer Survivors Day is the first Sunday in June. But, is one day enough? Not at all. After all you have been through, I say celebrate as often and for as long as you like. So, I say at least a week is a good start *big grin*
It is a very common question to ask – “when can I say I am a cancer survivor? When can I say I am disease free?” I used to think this was a difficult question. But, with maturity and experience comes wisdom. The answer is not a generic one…
When Can I Say “I Am A Cancer Survivor!”
It does not matter what stage of cancer you were diagnosed with, or how intensive (or minimal) your cancer treatment may have been, everyone’s goal is being a cancer survivor. Once the “C” word is uttered, everything changes. So once treatment is completed, you must prepare yourself for the “new normal” – (“new normal” is a term used for decades post cancer treatment, post deployment, etc., that is now commonly being applied in media to how things will be post COVID19). You are a cancer survivor once all treatment is completed… not after the first follow-up, not after the first scan, not even after you begin feeling like yourself again. No – you are a cancer survivor once you have completed treatment, once you rang the bell, once you have the certificate. Welcome butterfly – you are a cancer survivor!
WHY so soon?
I think of cancer diagnosis and treatments like a boxing match:
- Sometimes you win the first time around after the first set of treatments (It’s a KO!)
- Sometimes it may take several rounds and you may get a bit beat up in the process (surgery, chemotherapy side effects, hospital admission, radiation side effects, etc.,), but in the end, your hand is raised, and you won the fight!
- Other times, despite treatments, the cancer KO occurs for you, or a love one
- And then there are times, when after all the bouts of lengthy treatments and fighting and being strong, the fight is loss
I say, celebrate the day treatment ends. Let it all out! Take deep breath and sing gratitude for making it through … and then keep celebrating the little things on a regular basis. Yes indeed!
Cancer Survivor vs Cancer Overcomer?
During a recent cancer walk, the buzz was all about being a cancer “over-comer” and not a “survivor” … Hhhmm. I say, whichever phrase empowers you most … use it! The Merriam Webster dictionary defines both as:
Survive: To remain alive or in existence; live on. To continue to function or prosper; to continue to function or prosper despite … (Merriam-Webster)
Overcome: to defeat something. To successfully deal with or gain control of (something difficult). To affect (someone) very strongly or severely
About 14 years ago while wrestling with the different faces and phases of cancer…I chose to express the many thoughts that came with working in this profession. It never gets easier to handle…as physician, we need an escape too. I choose to download to Jesus daily…and leave it at the alter. Yes…I pray for my patients in private…
Until next time know that,
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!