By Gail Hamm, Program Director
“……and wonder if I will be one of the survivors….”
Recently a Cancer Services’ client made the following comment on the evaluation she returned to us: “… (I) wonder if I will be one of the survivors…”
This is a concern of most people who hear, “You have cancer.” You do not know in that moment of stillness, what to expect next. It takes your breath away. Life stands still. In a split second, you remember all the dire stories you have ever heard, and forget the successes.
But the truth is, that everyone’s experience, while similar to others’, is really unique for that individual. You may or may not have the usual side effects. For some, the treatment and after effects are not significant to them. For others, the experience is so momentous that life is measured as “before cancer” and “after cancer.”
At Cancer Services, we use the term “cancer survivor” to mean anyone affected by cancer, from the moment of diagnosis forward. And it includes caregivers, as well. The term “cancer survivor” was first used by Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, who was diagnosed in 1975 with mediastinal seminoma. In 1985, he wrote an essay for the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Seasons of Survival.” In that article, he wrote of the uncertainty of the life of a person diagnosed with cancer. He coined the term “cancer survivor” as an all-encompassing term identifying all people affected by cancer in any stage of survival. In a later interview on public radio, he said he wished that there were a better or more descriptive term to use. Even he recognized that people with cancer live in a sort of limbo, not knowing if they will survive the experience.
If there is a day when you need the reassurance that indeed you are a survivor who is surviving, just call your Cancer Services’ Client Advocate. He or she is here to listen to you, to encourage you, to help you find the answers you need in order to better cope with your unique situation.
Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is the first place to call after a diagnosis of cancer : (260) 484-9560 or toll free (866) 484-9560. ….Serving people with cancer and their families since 1944.
Bring your family and join other cancer survivors at Lapper and Survivors Day at Foster Park, May 21. Lapper starts at9 am and the party for Survivors Day starts at 11 am. Fun, food, and festivities!
Each of us wants life to have meaning, to contain relationships and experiences that make daily living richer and more enjoyable. We want, for ourselves and the people we love a quality of life that makes tomorrow exciting and interesting, caring and comforting. That’s why few things in life are more frightening than hearing the words, “you have cancer.” We understand that. We also know that while life will never be the same after a cancer diagnosis it can be rich and full of many good things.
Here you will read stories of cancer survivors, stories of hope and encouragement, stories of triumph, and thoughts to make your life richer. The postings on this blog represent the heart of Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. To learn more about the daily work of the organization go to cancer-services.org.
Our hope for you is that cancer, while life-threatening, will become something more. We want to help you find the life-affirming insight that will give you strength for the journey wherever it leads you.