Although the definition said, "A cancer survivor is anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer and is alive today," the first time I read it, I didn?t feel like a cancer survivor. Cancer Victim seemed a much more accurate term. But then the dust settled, treatment began, and I realized the "victim" thing just didn?t fit. I tossed the victim/survivor issue around and finally came to the conclusion that a victim and a survivor are the same thing - almost. The differences are subtle but at the same time enormous. The first thing I realized is that a survivor is a victim with an attitude. After I understood that, things were a little better. I had a choice about something - I could be a cancer victim or a cancer survivor. I liked the idea of having an attitude and I liked the sound of being a survivor.
Next, I thought about a friend of mine who had metastatic breast cancer and was the epitome of a cancer survivor. To Barbie, survivorship was a state of mind. Despite the moments of sadness and pain, she never lost her ability to laugh about some of the absurdities of cancer and cancer treatment. She treasured every moment and faced each new situation as best as she could. Eventually, the cancer got her body; however, she never allowed it to reach her spirit. I think of her as a survivor in the truest sense of the word.
Very slowly, the differences between being a survivor and victim became clear, and I started making a list. I?m sure every survivor can add one or two more. This is just a start.
S Being a victim is a state of body. Being a survivor is a state of mind.
S A victim fears hair falling out. A survivor knows bald is beautiful.
S A victim knows about feeling down. A survivor knows feeling down is okay.
S A victim dreads the side effects of treatments. A survivor wonders how to cancel his membership in the Side-Effect-of-the-Month Club.
S A victim is amazed at all the tears. A survivor never leaves home without Kleenex.
S A victim goes to "see" a doctor. A survivor "consults" with his or her physician.
S A victim gets caught in despair. A survivor prays a lot.
S A victim feels helpless. A survivor says "thanks" with dignity and grace.
S A victim enjoys a good laugh. A survivor loves one.
S From the moment we are diagnosed, we are victims. We must choose to be survivors.
Paula (Bachleda) Koskey
From Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul
by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery
and Nancy Mitchell, R.N. copyright 1996 Canfield, Hansen,
Aubery and Mitchell Warmly, lillian
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