As I think of the term “survivor”, what comes to mind are figures of people who have lived through something horrific- war, famine, tornadoes, natural disasters; those who have walked through the darkness and…
are still here – living proof that the human spirit can be tested and still survive.
As I think about survivors in context of the Mass General Cancer Center, it strikes me how rare it is that anyone touched by cancer call themselves “survivors”, particularly those treated or under treatment for cancer. It also is interesting how rare it is for me to use this term to describe my own patients. While I believe that the experience of cancer is as significant (and for some, even transcends) the experience of those who have lived through an external disaster, the term does little to personalize the experience for the one who has just walked that journey (and continues on that path).
To me, patients with cancer and those who continue to thrive and survive after cancer are more than cancer survivors – they are fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters; daughters and sons; husbands and wives.