The other day I was at a friends pool party/ bar b que. It was the kind of party where I only knew the hostess and her family, but not the other people there. Fine, I can make conversation with just about anyone. After swimming with my ankle wrapped in an ace wrap to keep the sun off of it, I hid in the shade as the rest of me can't take too much sun either and unwrapped my ankle and settled down to interesting conversation and a glass of wine. Then this nice woman whom I had just met asks me what happened to my ankle. I was about to give one of my non-answers when my friend replied, she had cancer and thought for a little while she might lose her leg, but look at her now. This other woman then says, something like- Oh you're a cancer survivor that's incredible. To which I had to take pause.
Cancer survivor- not a label I apply to myself. The very term seems off to me. The whole concept of survivor is final- like there is a great battle and you survived it, or some natural disaster, or some other calamity. My point being an event which you live through and then it is gone, but I am not so sure if I see my sarcoma as that kind of an event, since I still have to get all of these scans every 6 months and every morning my ankle reminds me that it isn't normal. Plus, the concept of survivor is that you were in danger of not living- right? Well that is something, I never ever considered in this whole event. I worried about how disabled I'd be, how much pain, how much of my active life style I'd get back, but no I never thought that I was not going to survive this whole thing. Therefore, to me- it is no surprise that I am here in better shape than I have been in years. So what to do with the label. My normal response is to ignore such comments, but nonetheless it got me thinking. Am I just an eternal optimist or do people not really understand. I never saw myself as a cancer patient, so I guess it isn't shocking that I can't see myself as a cancer survivor. Am I in denial? Hmmm