I’m a Survivor!

In April of 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  To say I was completely surprised would be an understatement.  I had been working out since January 1st of that year and had lost 25 lbs (that I did not miss at all).  Visibly, I was in the best shape I had been in in years.  The doctors almost couldn’t convince me – until they showed me the xrays.

This came up in my memories for June 7th

June 7, 2015 is Cancer Survivors Day. I happened upon an article requesting that people post what they feel about the labels: Cancer Warrior or Cancer Survivor. This is my response:
Am I a Survivor? Survivor is not a term exclusive to someone who has been diagnosed with Cancer. Everyone has a battle to get through his/her day; his/her circumstances. We are all survivors.
Am I a Warrior? By definition, a warrior is a brave or experienced soldier or fighter. Well, sometimes. I can honestly say I have felt like I am in a battle from the moment I heard my diagnosis. I fight with doctors, nurses, people who book appointments, friends, family and yes, at times – even myself.
Well then maybe I’m more of a Soldier (an enlisted man or woman, as distinguished from a commissioned officer). I was definitely enlisted.
I am also a Negotiator:
I want the test results to be negative but…
If they have to be positive – let them be definitive so that the doctor will know what to do but…
Make it not be painful but…
If it has to hurt – make them be nice to me but…
If they can’t be nice – at least let them be successful but…
If they can’t be totally successful – at least let me live.
When I go through it that way, I sound less and less like a warrior and more like someone haggling in a market.
Here’s what I think I am:
I am a Gambler: betting on my doctors & nurses that no matter what this disease throws at me you all are smart enough to fix what has gone so tragically wrong.
I am a Loner: no matter how many people pray for me, support me, talk to me and console me – when I walk in that treatment room and get on the table, I am alone.
I am a Beggar: asking anyone and everyone to help me.
I am an Optimist: no matter what the diagnosis, treatment plan and list of personal things I have to get done – I still believe it will all work out.
I am a Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Coworker, Neighbor…. everything I was the day before I got diagnosed:
I am a Mirror: I am You.
The only thing I am not – is Me, the day before I got diagnosed. That girl is gone.


I was right – about all of it.  I am a much stronger, happier woman today than I was before cancer.  I appreciate every single day and every single moment I spend.  It’s funny how we never really appreciate what we have until someone tries to take it from us.  Make no mistake, cancer sucks.  The tests, the treatments the way it takes over your life – You eat sleep, live cancer … until you don’t.  But once it is behind you, it is a wonderful thing. 

I agreed to participate in these survivor surveys that come once each year.  It asks questions about my current state of health, how I am feeling, etc.  And one question that is always in there is, “Are you fearful that your cancer will return?”  My answer is no.  Apparently, this is not the norm.  Most cancer survivors are looking over their shoulder wondering if it will come back.  My feeling is this:  I wasn’t worried about it before I got it, so I’m pretty much going to take life as it comes and not dwell on what might go wrong.  To all the cancer survivors out there I say Congratulations on winning your battle.  Not everyone does.  To those who have not had the experience I say, brace yourself and surround yourself with support and love.  It is what will get you through it. 

Finally, would I undo it if I could?  No!  I have come to really like the person I am now.  I am more alive than before.  No.  I would not change a thing. 

It really is true.  That which does not kill us – makes us stronger.   

June 7, 2015 was two days before I had my first surgery.  Two days from now, I will reach my five-year anniversary of being cancer free.  No more medicine! 

To all survivors!


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1 Comment

  1. Dan Rohan on June 8, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing. You area tough cookie from the Bronx!!