Log in or Register to participate in these discussions

What is a survivor?

What is a survivor?

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jun 7, 2020 9:28 am

What does the term survivor mean to you? 

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Kims1961 on Jun 8, 2020 9:52 am

Great question Lacey - I often wonder this myself:

From the Oxford Dictionary:

a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.
"the sole survivor of the massacre"
  • the remainder of a group of people or things.
    "a survivor from last year's team"
  • a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
    "she is a born survivor"
Why i like this quote is that a Cancer Survivor can be anyone ...my mother who died from colon cancer - I see as a survivor.  She coped well with the difficulties it presented.  The fact that she died from cancer, doesn't negate her experience.  We are all going to die sometime - rather, when given the diagnosis, she lived as well as she could with the time she had.

This could apply to caregivers as well.  They are coping with the difficulties that cancer presents to their loved ones. 
I look forward to seeing what others think!


Great thoughtful question Lacey!  

Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Joybell on Jun 8, 2020 11:01 am

I think anyone who is battling cancer is a warrior/survivor. We fight to live and us caregivers fight for our friends and family. Every day is a gift, even the dark days.  Today my huxband starts his second round of chemo and we fight sgain. Stay strong friends. 

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Clarke on Jun 8, 2020 4:20 pm

To me, a survivor is:
someone who met a challenge and succeeded,

grateful and

a winner!

Clarke Edward, Survivor

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jun 8, 2020 5:11 pm

Joybell‍ - How did it go today?

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Jun 10, 2020 12:48 am

I use this word in my tagline on my email signature but I'm not happy about it. I have been reluctant to jump into this discussion because I'm not really a survivor. There is something off about using a word that is seems to make us into heroes. Maybe it is false humility.

So I was digging a bit further into the definition on dictionary.com. They have a section of the definition called "Words related to survivor" And they listed the following: residue, debris, leavings, surplus, legacy, trash, remnants, balance, rest, remnant, remainder.

These words aren't so positive. One of my favorite mantras is that "I am more than a cancer diagnosis." I am not a shell of who I formerly was. I'm not leftovers. And I am definitely not "trash." There is this faint ickiness to the word "survivor." that leaves me feeling less than. Like though I have gone through (or in my case am going through) this awful disease and come out the other side some how less than I went in. Changed? No argument. But less than? What's left after? A remnant? A remainder? Nope not me.

My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Mammabear on Jun 11, 2020 11:21 am

like WestCoastSailor‍ I don't bond with that word. I also never liked journey or battle. Cancer is part of my life. Some people live with diabetes, hear disease, asthma. I live with cancer. It tries to kill me and I push it back. Today I am winning. 

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Laika57 on Jun 11, 2020 11:37 am

Personally I think the terms survivor and warrior are overly dramatized.  I "see" where they are coming from, but it feels more like some label slapped on rather than something from within.
as a caregiver, maybe I don't get a vote. I don't personally know how it feels. I know the struggle is real, and it takes tremendous strength to get through. Slapping a cheesy label on it for fundraising purposes just seems disrespectful to me.
but then again, some people need those terms for motivation, to come up with the strength to plow on. Wouldn't want to take that away from them.
guess I am officially undecided 🤔

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Runner Girl on Jun 11, 2020 11:55 am

I too struggle with the term "survivor".  I have survived so many things in my life that my cancer diagnosis just seems like another thing I had to get thru.  

I survived the deaths of my sister and my brother, both younger, when I was 20.  I survived a non-cancerous breast lump at age 40.  I survived an abusive marriage and the 10 year divorce that followed.  I survived my dad's psychotic break and then his subsequent death following a lung cancer diagnosis.  I work in oil and gas and have survived the numerous downturns, layoffs, etc.  I survived my mom's sudden and unexpected death just before I received my own cancer diagnosis.  I did my battle, had chemo, radiation, herceptin, now tamoxifen.  I worked, ran, did all the usual household chores during my treatment.  I survived my fiance deciding to bail on our relationship because he couldn't deal with my cancer.  

I guess I just feel like surviving is something I have had to do on a pretty regular basis.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Whitelilies on Jun 12, 2020 11:10 am

Runner Girl‍ Hello
i read and then RE read your last post, what you shared.....I am in AWE of your resilience, your strength.  You carried on! You amaze me.
i hope to have HALF of your strength.

We must all carry on.  Heads held high.

Marching forward.......not backwards....


Ps ......sharing my "words" of battle:......infertility.....Autism x 2 ....Tumour.....bag.....cancer......gone? who knows?......and have not had a vacation in 21 years.......urgh......what does a plane look like?  Still have wings?  Still have Stewardess?

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Wendy Tea on Jun 12, 2020 11:11 am

It is great to see everyone's point of view. I Am a Survivor.  More than that I Am a Believer.  I know myself.  I know how my mind works.  Last year I began my cancer journey,  a dance with death. I vowed to win. I went into a battle with no thought of losing.  I became a cancer warrior.  I fought this ugly disease in a way that worked for me. Trust me, it was a battle,  I became a warrior,  and I came out the other side. I am a survivor.  I appreciate the fact that everyone needs to face challenges in their own unique way.  I did it my way. I honestly feel if I do not believe I will survive then who will believe?  That is why I remind myself with every post that I Am a Survivor.  This is a message for me, to remind me who I am and why I came to this site. To share my struggles,  to share hope and despair,  to share tips and tricks. Every morning that I wake up I know I am a survivor. I don't know what tomorrow will bring regarding health,  happiness,  friendship, financial security or quality of life. But as of this minute,  with all of my life long struggles, I am a survivor.  If you managed to read this post in its entirety,  thank you. 
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Whitelilies on Jun 12, 2020 11:15 am

Wendy Tea‍ Hello
You bet I DID read every word you shared.
And I FEEL you ARE a Survivor!
You exude strength.

Thank you for sharing......it does help others/me.



Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Brighty on Jun 12, 2020 11:16 am

So do you Lilly Whitelilies‍! !!you exude strength too.   
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jun 12, 2020 7:56 pm

Thank you everyone for sharing. I posted hoping /knowing that there would be mixed feelings about the term. 

Language matters and we all react differently to terms used. There is no right or wrong way to feel about the term. 

The term 'fighter' also has had mixed reviews. I think of my dad as a cancer fighter. I watched him give everything he could to survive. He fought so hard. It felt Iike a battle for our family. 


Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by JustJan on Jun 13, 2020 10:32 am

I too am not a fan of the word survivor. I rather like the term resilient and I am
resilient! When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2019, I hated a lot of the acronyms that went along with the diagnosis. I was pretty sure I was going to begin to hate the colour pink. I was not a warrior, I was scared out of my mind and was just trying to get through my cancer experience. I did not want to be seen as a cancer patient but as a person who happened to have cancer. I just wanted to get to the other side. Well the universe had a different plan and when I was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2019 I had to become a warrior as I had to face my biggest fear which was having to have chemo. I assembled my army and off we went into battle. I did survive that experience but not because I am a warrior but because I am resilient. Like someone else posted, we survive many things throughout our lives and it seems it is just a part of life that obstacles are put in our path for us to navigate. The secret for me is finding joy in every day and and being grateful for all that I have and even being grateful for what I have endured. 
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: What is a survivor?

Posted by JacquelineM on Jun 13, 2020 10:40 am

Survivor. What does this even mean? 

I always think of this word as someone that survives, which so far I am surviving - but this doesn't feel appropriate yet to me. But by definition, it is someone who outlives another. It is also a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks - which so far I have. But none of these feel relevant to me. I am not sure it quite has relevance yet, perhaps because my treatments finished only a few months ago and I am still dealing with some effects and side effects of these treatments.

Do I deserve the title of survivor? When someone battles and recovers from a heart attack, a stroke, COVID-19, we don't refer to them as survivors in the same way, and yet their battles are no less real or worthy. And yet, they too, are survivors.

When will I feel like a survivor of cancer? By definition I should feel like a survivor because I "functioned in spite of the disease". But I don't. Yet. Will it be when my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes grows back, or my toe nails grow in? Will it be when my breast stops itching and tingling? Or when my weight returns to normal. Or will it be when a certain amount of time goes by knowing cancer has not returned? For me, I am not sure.

The terms "journey" and "survivor" I suppose are immensely personal to each individual who have been diagnosed, go or are going through treatment, or even finished it. Neither of these terms I relate to yet. I hope there will come a time, soon, that I do relate and appreciate the fact that I stayed strong, endured, and did survive. But that time has not come to me yet.

Instead, I take each day, grateful for the strength of those who surrounded me with love and support, and grateful for my own strength to battle through this period in my life. I do hope there will be peace in my heart one day to feel confident to call myself a survivor. But today, the battle is too near, the pain still too real, and the fear still very much alive within me.