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?


14 Responses to Survivor

  1. Nope, I believe you are a survivor when you decide to be one! I will be wearing a survivor t-shirt when I walk for charity this fall, and I’ve just only finished chemo.

  2. lorri steer says:

    Well, that’s just, if you will excuse my French, BS. What an arbitrary number – five years. It’s not a magic number, people can reoccur after that. Five years is good but it doesn’t promise you never to have cancer the rest of your life. Random.

  3. Spruce Hill says:

    I believe you are a survivor the moment you are diagnosed. That is what my breast surgeon said to me. I have survived breast cancer for one year and two months, that is not something to bat you lashes at!

  4. francesbarrie says:

    I am 15 months out from diagnosis and I believe I am a survivor. I have survived numerous rounds of nasty chemicals in my body and survived 5 surgeries. Although I am still receiving Herceptin and taking tamoxifen I am still here; so YES I am a survivor! I think, too that you are a survivor every minute after diagnosis…I hope that woman got the point from you…because I kind of want to come and kick her ass! (oh, sorry :))

  5. Becky says:

    It is so funny to hear others’ perspectives of when you are a real survivor. I have decided like the rest of the post-ers that we become survivors the minute we “survive” hearing the words, “I am sorry to tell you the biopsy came back positive for breast cancer.” There really aren’t words to encompass what impact that makes on a woman’s (and her family’s) life. I don’t always want to be classified as a survivor because I am so much more than “just” a survivor, but a survivor I am!!

  6. k8 says:

    I heard that you count survivorship from the day you were diagnosed……me, I’m at 1 yr, 7 months, 18 days… and counting!

    Dumb witch….what was she {not} thinking…oh, let’s get competitive about surviving breast cancer, for crying out loud!


  7. As if it’s not hard enough dealing with all the crap that comes our way, now someone basically says “nope…you’re still standing on the edge of the death cliff.” Now, instead of the competitive mommy wars, we’ll have the breast cancer wars……well I’m stage 3, you’re only stage one!”

    I LOVED your response. Perfect. I’m still in the middle of my chemo and consider myself a survivor.

  8. bcjenster says:

    That was truly one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard! And I’m with all these other VERY intelligent women! I’ve been a survivor nearly four years now!

  9. whymommy says:

    No way. You’re a survivor in every sense of the word! In fact, you sound like you’re thriving.

  10. The day you hear the news, and don’t crumple up and fall apart, that day, you become a survivor!

    And if you do crumple up that day and fall apart — totally understandable behavior!! — then the day you get up, brush off your pants, and choose to fight, then that is the day you become a survivor!

    I thought you handled yourself with grace!! I would not have been so quick on my feet with a polite response.

    I probably would have informed her that the current wisdom it that until she has reached the 20 year mark, she is really not “safe” and she should quit fooling herself and putting down others!

    I have metastasis. Remission is not in the card for me. Not in a year. Not in five. Not in ten and not in twenty.

    But, I am a survivor.

    Every day that I get up out of bed, I am a survivor.

    When I take care of my family, I am a survivor.

    When I go to the work (only once a week), I am a survivor.

    Every time I choose to ask for the help I need, I am a survivor.

    Just by living my life and not giving up, I am a survivor.

    I will survive!!

  11. k8 says:

    Hmmm – that being said, I feel I must call myself out on this. Sometimes when I read the message boards (where most list their ‘stats’ under their posts), I go, “1 cm!..pffft….please…you call that cancer!?”

    So, I’m not exactly guilt free in the cancer competition…but at least I’m not saying it out loud to anyone.


  12. laurie says:

    When I read your post I thought, “Wow, I wish I were quick-witted enough to come up with such a great and smart response!” You handled that beautifully and with more grace than I could have. You are indeed a survivor, as are we all.

  13. emmy says:

    If you have ever been on the receivng end of the words “you have cancer”, you are a survivor. When you look in the eyes of your children, or your sisters or you spouse and utter the words “It’s cancer”, you are a survivor. You are a survivor when you offer yourself up to treatment and when you learn to deal with the complications those treatments cause. From the moment you are diagnosed, you are a survivor. My friend, who decided to have a mammogram after my diagnosis and found her cancer at less than 1 cm is a survivor. Today I became a 5 year breast cancer survivor. I know that the time means little for breast cancer. I know that it means nothing at all for metatastic breast cancer, but for me it is meaningful. Today I lived five years longer than I thought that I would, and I realize that the important thing isn’t the longevity, but what I do with the time I have.

  14. great entry! we at LBBC believe a woman is a survivor from the day she’s diagnosed. was yoga a big help to you during treatment? our latest entry is on how the exercise can help women get through treatment & manage the side effects. looking forward to reading future entries!

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