Who is a cancer survivor?

Who is a cancer survivor?

It’s another first Sunday in June. It’s another National Cancer Survivor’s Day. It’s another day of celebration and confusion.

This being a survivor thing is not easy. Sure, all of us are happy we’re still here, it definitely beats the alternative. At the same time there’s the guilt. Why were we lucky enough that we’re here and others are not? Why did those who had the tougher battles with cancer and may have not made it feel happy for those of us who didn’t have their problems.

Yeah, there’s a lot of guilt involved with being a survivor.

Then there’s the term survivor itself. Is someone who had a stage one form of cancer and a relatively easy treatment on the same level of survivorship as someone who had multiple surgeries and multiples rounds of chemo and radiation? It doesn’t feel the same and it doesn’t feel right. It feels dishonest. More of that guilt thing.

It gets you thinking…who is a cancer survivor? According to The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship:

the definition of survivor as being any person diagnosed with cancer, from the time of initial diagnosis until his or her death. This expansive definition of “survivor” includes people who are dying from untreatable cancer.

Cool! We’re all under the same umbrella. Honestly, I think it just makes it worse.

So how do you deal with this cancer survival day? You can celebrate or you can hide under your blanket of guilt all day. I think most of us will do a little of both. I think most of us will feel grateful that we’re still here and at the same time think about our friends and relatives who are not.

That sounds like a good way to deal with another National Cancer Survivor’s Day. We can deal with this again next year…and I’m sure we will.


This is last year’s piece about surviving National Cancer Survivor’s Day.

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