Cancer-Survivor Spectrum — Where Do You Fall?

I know a guy. He was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had surgery, and radiation, and he is now cancer-free. He is not sure he identifies with being a cancer survivor, though, and I think he should.

“It’s weird when I think about or talk about my cancer story, because I don’t really feel like there is much of one,” he shared with me. “I almost feel a bit guilty talking about it. So many people have or had it so much worse than I did. Not that any cancer story should be eventful, but mine was very uneventful in my mind. Something felt unusual, I had a couple of tests done, a week later, I had it removed, and I went through some light radiation to better my odds of it not coming back. That’s pretty much how it went. I feel like calling myself a survivor is going overboard, compared to what others have gone through.”

I totally get what he’s saying, and I think we all judge where we fall on the survivor spectrum. My journey was a challenge for me personally, but others have it worse, and some people must live on treatment in order to just buy time. I often feel guilty that I have survived for 8 years, and some people never get that gift. The bottom line, though, is that we all long to be cured, and I believe my friend should be so completely thrilled that his cancer was caught and terminated. Also, the feelings that come with having cancer are pretty universal, I think; there is fear and worry and hope and a whole bunch of roller-coaster emotions that happen regardless of the type of cancer or the prognosis. My point: My friend is a survivor, for sure. He is just luckier than some, that’s all.

Where do you fall on the cancer-survivor spectrum—and how do you feel about your position compared to the position of others?

3 thoughts on “Cancer-Survivor Spectrum — Where Do You Fall?

  1. I am not now nor will I ever use the label survivor to describe my life with cancer twice. I am someone who lives with cancer. But I do acknowledge that it has had an impact on my life.

  2. As a 15 year “survivor” each stage of this journey has brought challenges and rewards. My experiences have been constant motivation to work towards change. I prayer to make change and provide access to care to patients to come.

  3. I would hope none of your family and friends will be alienated by your “behaviour” Marian. You have the right to be grumpy, short-tempered, angry, whatever or however you want to describe it – your body has betrayed you and you are dealing with it the best way you can. I don’t think you should worry about the rest of us – your primary goal is to heal however you know how.
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