Words matter and this one’s gotta go

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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:

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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.



17 responses to “Words matter and this one’s gotta go

  1. In total agreement with your post.
    Go girl!! You’re my role model. 😊😊

  2. I am with you, I live with lung cancer and go about my day as normal as possible with side steps occasionally to take car of a small tumor that may pop up in the brain.

  3. I would love to join you, xoxo. But it will take some time. I’m only 4 years post diagnosis and the thought of always being in treatment weighs heavily on me most days. I will get there though! Survivors guilt is another thing that I have struggled with.

    • It does take time–feeling that you can embrace life again. However, do not feel guilty for living. Yes, our heart breaks each time we lose another but we simply cannot let that stop us from living our own lives to the fullest.

      xo Linnea

  4. Agreed. I’ve never been comfortable celebrating my ‘cancerversary.’ I’ll celebrate every birthday, but it’s never made sense to me to ‘celebrate’ the day I was officially told that my existence was being threatened by lung cancer. I want to LIVE not merely survive.
    (Love your blog.)

    • Thank you Gail. I note/mark that day (although this year, to my delight, I forgot all about it!) but never, ever would I celebrate anything other than the days that have passed SINCE diagnosis—that is the living part.

      xo Linnea

  5. Regina Dieker

    Yes! Yes! And more yes! It’s like you took the words out of my mouth. I have more to say but I gotta look up something!!! But yes!!!!

    • Thanks Regina. And thank you for your comment on FB about how much the word survivor can (albeit unintentionally) hurt.

      xo Linnea

  6. Absolutely!! Thanks again for well said words .

  7. surviving and thriving

  8. Hello!

    I am all in!
    Christine 😉

  9. Melanie Poser

    Linnea, would you have any news on Kim Wieneke, so very long since she has blogged. I worry.

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