The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship defines being a survivor as anyone diagnosed with cancer, from the time of their diagnosis until the date of their death. I wish it was that easy.
According to the NCCS, today is my two year anniversary of being a survivor. The only reason I remember the exact date is because it's Valentine's Day. Yep, on the day where people celebrate love and romance with flowers and chocolate, I was looking at this nasty mole that turned out to be Melanoma. You think Hallmark makes a card for that?
I don't obsess over the cancer itself. It was stage one. An simple removal with a fairly easy recovery. I'm pretty careful because I know it could reoccur. I recently found a new Dermatologist and see her every six months, although I think it should be every three. I didn't even freak over the recent removal of this little pre-cancerous thingy on my forehead. Okay...I freaked a little but it's all good.
I barely think of myself as part of the melanoma world, although I do go to a charity walk mostly to show support for others. In fact, if you asked one of my friends or family members to name someone who had cancer, I'd be way down the list, if mentioned at all....and that's great.
Yet as down as I am with the cancer itself, it's that survivor tag that gets to me. It's fairly common, too. I've had this discussion with lots of people. We tend to think that you had to go through surgeries, chemo, radiation and come out of it to be a survivor. When you compare an hour surgery or a little skin deformation blasted off to the tough stuff, it doesn't feel real to call yourself a survivor. It feels disrespectful.
Tom Brokaw is a survivor. Me, not as much.
It's stuff like this screws you up. They say cancer messes with your head as much as your body. I'm pretty sure it's this crap that sends and keeps people in therapy. And what makes it worse is the ones who have had the worst cancer fights are happy for those of us who had it caught early and didn't have to go through what they did. Talk about feeling guilty!!
But someone recently told me an interesting analogy about this survivor thing. We're all survivors. We're all members of the team. But a guy like Brokaw is Michael Jordan, of the six time championship Bulls. I've got a ring but I'm like the last guy on the bench. I'm Corey Williams or Rusty LaRue (Google them).
So on this Cancerversary number two, I'm going to try to treat it like another day, but I doubt that will happen. I'm going to be happy and grateful that I'm still here and I'll also be sad and remember those friends and family members that weren't as lucky. It won't be easy but anything worthwhile isn't supposed to be.
Here's last years piece on the first Cancerversary.
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