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When is one a Survivor?

S. Jane

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When talking with my friend who is a breast cancer survivor, we were pondering this question. She was told that one is a survivor the day you find out that you have cancer. Yet, she didn't agree with that, and didn't feel like a survivor until she completed her treatment. I'm curious as to what others think. This has all come up because of Relay for Life Survivor banquet - (which of course includes anyone who wants to go).



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It's all in how one looks at it -- perspective. I had a friend long-term colon survivor who said, "If you didn't drop dead the moment you heard you had cancer, you are a survivor." I subscribe to that theory.

However, Lucie did not feel like a survivor until she got to an extended period of feeling good. That happened last August, when she was in rehab from pneumonia. She was about 10 months from diagnosis at that point. So, it differs with different people. I don't think you can get a unanimous agreement on a definition. So, pick one as yours. Don

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I considered myself a survivor when I went through my first surgery. As you read over my signsture, you will see that I am now a multiple survivor. I like to refer to us as a patient/survivor. As Don says, it is all with the beholder. Definitely walk in the survivor's lap at your Relay for Life event. You have earned that right.

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One is a survivor if you live through the news of the diagnosis...I like that because the other otions would probably be patient or victim. I am a two years, one month survivor of NSCLC Stage IV...I have been on and off treatment throughout that time and some times it's been awful and some times it's good, but my good news is that I'm still surviving!


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Merriam Webster definition for survivor:

1 : to remain alive or in existence : live on

2 : to continue to function or prosper

To me, that would be every single person that is typing on their keyboard and posting to this site, and every single person that is typing on their keyboard for the benefit of someone who meets the definitions above.

God bless us all,


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I feel like I am "surviving" but not yet a "survivor". Since 80% of those diagnosed with my type of lc die within 1-2 years and the "rate of survival" at 5 years is 1 in 3, I think I will feel like anything after 2 years is a bonus, and that I will truely be a "survivor" after 5 years. It has now been 15 months since dx with no signs of recurrence. Yip! Yip!


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I asked myself after diagnosis what that made me.... a patient? a victim? definitely NOT a victim. Ergo -- a survivor.

I was surprised to find out from my oncologist that traditionally, the medical community dates survivorship from diagnosis. I had been dating my time "clear" since surgery. But it makes sense, as not everyone has surgery, or chemo, or radiation.

So, even though it makes medical sense ( I hate to agree by default),

as Dean Carl said:

I have cancer + I ain't dead = I am a survivor.

I am not comfortable taking it to the bank for any amount of time. I am here TODAY.

I still have my port in because I am a firm believer in Murphy's law.

I am a four year survivor.

I won't know if I can remain cancer FREE until something else kills me, but until then, I am a cancer survivor with NED.

They talk about cures. I don't know if such a thing exists, or if it is tempting fate to consider that they do. I have heard too many stories of people going 4 years 11 1/2 months before recurrence, so the golden 5 years doesn't mean a whole lot in my book.

But I am alive NOW. I AM A SURVIVOR!

When I was first diagnosed, I wrote in my journal at the top of the first page, I am a survivor.

That's all I wrote. That's all I ever wrote in the whole journal.

Sorry for the book here.

Prayers for us all,



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