I don’t like the word SURVIVOR

I don’t like the word SURVIVOR; matter of fact, I have a deep aversion to it.

Why is this word used to define those of us with stage IV breast cancer? Why is it even used to describe people who have been treated for earlier stage bc?

When I think of the word, I think of concentration camp survivors or survivors of other persecutions.  These people lived through unspeakable horrors, escaped death and continued to move forward. I haven’t earned this word and, frankly, it just doesn’t fit.

I am not a survivor of bc.  To put it bluntly, unless the proverbial bus hits me, I will die of bc.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, cancer is an internal masochist and like you all, I need to treat it as the enemy in order to live but I am still LIVING.  Survivor implies completion and finality.

I also wonder if the rampant use of the word survivor has lulled all involved in bc – patients, researchers, doctors, pharma companies and bc organizations into a false sense of complacency.  If we are all survivors then why do we need to do more?  What justification is there to fund more research and to push for more treatments?  I want the public at large, to see me as I am – a woman trying to control a deadly disease as long as possible.  I am living until I am dying.

What do you think?


6 Responses to I don’t like the word SURVIVOR

  1. Cheryl says:

    I totally agree.The word survivor makes it sound like it’s all better,and anyone with stage IV bc knows that is far from the truth.

  2. Susan Beason says:

    I totally agree!!! Have wanted for a long time to find another word for us!!!! I am still living but every few years something new comes along in mets. A “survivor” as far as I know survives one castastrophe. Who is a person who repeatedly goes thru the same old same old?

  3. Cate Conroy says:

    At the end of each day that I have been living with metastatic breast cancer, I can honestly say that I am a survivor. I’ve earned the right to be called a survivor because I take each day, one at a time. The word “survivor” implies strength, courage, hope, and an unwillingness to give up. No matter the physical pain, I have chosen to focus on the positive and banish all negative thoughts and negative people from my life. It is surprising what positive thinking can do in the battle with cancer–or any problem we might face in life. The brain is a powerful organ and thought processes can and do have a direct influence over physical processes in one’s body. For me, it is a state of mind over matter. It takes effort to banish negative thinking, until eventually a survivor mentality becomes a way of life, but I’ve found that the more positive approach in battling this disease actually builds support and attention at all levels–from friends and family, to the scientific community and the general public. It is important to spread the word about the difference between metastatic “terminal” diagnosis and early-stage breast cancer. Even so, I refuse to be a sufferer. I will not die a martyr for the cause of advancing knowledge of metastatic breast cancer. I am, and will always be, a survivor and an example of what positive thinking can do to improve quality of life. Ultimately, we all make choices to deal with this disease according to our own will and desire. There is no right or wrong. Do what works best for you.

  4. paula winans says:

    Yes, the pink ribbon/survivor nonsense has definitely created the illusion that breast cancer is curable. It is not. The fortunate women outlive their cancer and die from something else. The older a woman is when she is diagnosed the better because she may have a chance of living until eighty or so, but the younger women unless some miracle occurs will more than likely die of this disease.
    The general public, I believe, thinks that breast cancer is curable.
    So wrong.

  5. carrinahuff says:

    I find your post discouraging to say the least. It really depends how each individual interprets the word ‘survivor’ I have recently been diagnosed with metastatic disease and have finally understood how my negative attitude previously may have created an easier place for cancer to survive. I am not saying, by any means, that a positive attitude alone will overcome this beast, but it will help.

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