I started taking yoga at the cancer center a few months ago.  As I was leaving class after my first time I was chatting with a few other women.  Talking with another woman about having breast cancer she said “Oh….I’m a real survivor, I hit my five year mark last month.  Some women think after a year they’re a survivor, but they’re not survivors yet.”  Wow (this is what I thought in my head).  But I responded “I’ve heard if you made it five minutes past you’re breast cancer diagnosis, you’re a survivor.”  And I left it at that. 

I’ve decided I’m a survivor.  It took me a while to accept that title, but I think it fits.  I genuinely think the worst part of breast cancer is the initial diagnosis….and maybe the first weeks after.  Those were the hardest days for me. 

I’ve noticed the IBC survivor web page only includes women who have lived more than five years.  I’m not there yet.  I haven’t risen to the ranks yet.  I hope I get there.  I think I will.

So what do you think?  Are you only a survivor when you get to five years?


5 thoughts on “Survivor

  1. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    That’s irritating to say you’re only a surivor if you make it 5 years. I think being alive makes us all survivors. What an unthoughtful thing for her to say.

  2. Kristen M. says:

    I’d consider both of us survivors Jen. If you had breast cancer and you are living, you are a survivor. Glad to hear that you’re going to yoga. I’ve got to get on that band wagon.

  3. JBBC says:

    Well Jen from one survivor to another, how awful that someone would say such an insensitive and indeed inaccurate thing to you – to make you feel like you weren’t a “true” survivor because you hadn’t reached some arbitrary time scale of “survivorship”. As a matter of interest I looked up the definition of survive in my dictionary and it states that to survive means “to remain alive or in existence … to continue to function or prosper”. Well you are certainly a survivor by that definition! Furthermore that lady is inaccurate in using the five year survivor rule. At least according to my oncologist, who, when I told him I was coming up to the magic five years recently, told me in no uncertain terms, there is no such thing as a magic five years – not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I understand that it is not possible to guarantee that once you have completed cancer treatment that your cancer will never come back. So all in all this lady was much misguided in what she said to you. Wishing you continued health and wellness on your journey as a survivor.

  4. I must agree with you concept that the minutes after diagnosis… you are a survivor. The idea that you have to live on for X number of years before “earning” survivor status is so degrading and I cannot in my mind believe that any cancer survivor could say such an elitist and negative thing to another survivor 😦 I’m sorry that you had to encounter something like that, but I’m a firm believer that every thing we bump across in life helps to make us stronger and become the person we cherish.

    The world of cancer had to develop a whole new term for women like me who are BRCA postive genetically predispossed towards cancer – apparently I am called a Previvor (defintion is someone who has survived the predisposition towards a genetically high cancer risk). It seemed like an odd concept at first, but I’m now warming up to the terminology. But as I started signing up for my Relay for Life this year and going through all the paperwork, I noticed that there is nothing in their system that cover “previvors” or people who have this genetic ticking time clock above their head and I find it disappointing.

    Thank you for letting me read your blog! I’m finding it facinating so far and very informational too!

  5. Great question! We believe a woman is a survivor from the day she is diagnosed 🙂

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