Yesterday was National Cancer Survivors Day, and I just went meh. Wait–make that hell no.
I don’t ‘do’ Survivors Day. My lack of enthusiasm is manifold. First of all, cancer is not a damned day. For many of us, there is no life ‘after’ cancer. Nope. As I’ve said before; been there, doing it. This is present tense.
And then there is the word survivor. I loathe it. Survivor is too much, too little, too late. If you haven’t stopped to read the definition of survivor lately, let me refresh your memory:
Yuck. Who wants to be the ‘person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.’ Or the ‘remainder’. I suppose someone who ‘copes well’ is a good thing but then again, a rather serious understatement when you are talking about cancer.
The word ‘survivor’ is inadequate. It is also implicitly negative/ugly. No one wants to be ‘the sole survivor of a massacre’–we want everyone to survive. Ever wonder where survivor guilt comes from? Look no further.
In the past I have referred to myself as ‘surviving cancer’. The verb vs noun thing seemed to better capture the fact that I am now and likely always will be in treatment.
However, after thirteen years of surviving, I’m sick of this shit.
From now on, I reject both verb and noun in favor of a far more positive/forward thinking term. I am living with lung cancer.
And you know what? There is no guilt associated with being alive. If you’re not already there, join me.