May 31, 2016
A few months after I first received my cancer diagnosis, I encountered all these cancer survivor stories through social media and the web. The stories made me think about when I would be able to call myself a survivor. It will soon be two years since my diagnosis; two years that include undergoing surgery and multiple needle pokes, being radioactive and riding an ongoing hormone replacement roller coaster. It feels almost surreal to admit that I am now feeling somewhat more stable. I am finally beginning to feel like a survivor. I just Googled survivor and here is one definition:
Survivor: a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
I just realized that based on this definition, I may have been a survivor all along. I know that cancer survivors are usually the ones who go on to live. But none of us get out of life alive. So then, the real survivors are the ones who cope and manage and meet all those life challenges with strength and tears and laughter and support and compassion. I am learning and relearning every day how to find my new normal and keep going. I will still need to be monitored and there are other concurrent health issues to deal with but every day I am:
- Forgiving myself for being short-tempered and cranky.
- Loving myself despite putting on all the ‘cancer weight‘.
- Celebrating my ability to work again and think clearly.
- Cherishing my loved ones and support system.
- Acknowledging little wins in energy levels.
- Understanding how to navigate situations and people.
- Smiling when I recognize that my body is functioning.
- Learning to live with my past experiences, pain and hurt.
- Making time to acknowledge the present moment.
- Dreaming about what comes next.
So if we get to decide what we identify as, yes, I think I am also a survivor.