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Readers Respond: How I Define a Breast Cancer Survivor?

Responses: 61


Updated September 14, 2009

When did you first say "I am a breast cancer survivor?" Did your doctor, friends, or family influence when you started saying you were a breast cancer survivor? Is it: at diagnosis, after surgery, at the end of treatment, when you pass your 5-year checkup, or whenever you say you are a survivor? Weigh in on when you can say you are a breast cancer survivor.

Cancer Free Now

I was diagnosed in April 2013 stage 1 breast cancer, nodes were clear and had bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction June 2013. Finished chemo in Sept 2013. And will begin tamoxifen for 5 years. I'm BRCA2 so I'll have a hysterectomy before the end of 2013 and fix my reconstruction in early 2014. I think about my cancer journey all the time and consider the road that still lies ahead. The mental and physical effects are long lasting but I have a lot to be thankful for. It IS a battle, and I AM a survivor. Anyone that thinks I'm not, probably has never had cancer. It's devastating and changes your life. I will never be the same. And no matter how long I live and if ever my cancer comes back, I will always know and forever be a survivor. Sounds strange I know, but that is truly how I feel. Fight on fellow cancer sisters and brothers! God Bless you and never give up!
—Guest Leah Medina

My wife is a survivor!

My wife is still wondering when she can call herself a "survivor"! She had ovarion cancer in '90, hysterectomy. Kidney cancer april of '12, removed left kidney. Breast cancer in Oct. '12. Stage II HER +. Left breast removed, wanted both but doctor recommended just the one. 2 lympnodes removed and was clear. 8 rounds of chemo then 8 rounds of herceptin. Still on. She has also had skin cancer in between. I tell her she is as much of a survivor as can be. She keeps thinking she has to wait for that 5 year mark. I wish I could convince her she is a survivor, then maybe she will act like one. Right now she feels like another shoe is about to drop. Maybe I can get her to read some of these stories and it will help her so to all of yopu that are going through this and have been through it, I say Thank you for sharing and may God Bless all of you.
—Guest James

I am a Survivor Right Now

I was diagnosed with low grade 1st stage breast cancer in March of 2013, I have done had a lumpectomy and 26 lymph's removed and only 1 was positive and am now doing chemo. Done lost my hair, and I am winning this battle, I only have 4 treatments in total and am about to take my 2nd. This has been a scary journey for me and reading all of your responses sure has given me hope. I thank all of you! WE ARE SURVIVORS!
—Guest Jerry....

Painful, Drained, But a Survivor

I had breast cancer Jan 10th 2013. I had a lumpectomy and radiation. i did great till April 23, 2013 when my world turned upside down. i developed a csyt and it wouldn't heal, so now i go to HBO Chamber everyday 5 day a week and my breast has a hole in it size of a dime. it won't heal we pack it 3x a day. its called radiation necrosis, very painful. this has been harder then facing your told u have breast cancer, having surgery, and radition. but for your breast surgeon to blow u off has been worse cause if she would of listen to me i wouldn't be going threw hell. cancer survior - yes - but bad docter and neglected for sure. i've missed so much work and having fun w my 5 yr old grandson. i still fight everyday, its drained me in all ways but this shall pass. i know i stay strong for life my family. thanks for listening
—Guest Brenda smith

Maybe I am considered a survivor

I had Stage 2 breast cancer lymph nodes not affected. Double mastectomy and reconstruction. 4 chemos and herceptin. Am I considered a survivor? My sister says since I didn't have to fight for my life She doesn't considered me a survivor. So my question is am I considered a survivor? - Christie ((Answer: **YES! According to the American Cancer Society, you are a survivor upon diagnosis regardless of the treatments or the severity of the diagnosis. - Pam Stephan**))
—Guest Christie

Appreciate the value of your family

Hi. My name is Ragini Pillay. I was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer in April 2012. Had eight sessions of chemo, - horrid!- had 25 sessions of daily radiation - then had a lumpectomy - surgeon and oncologist informed me that cancer spread - DCIS - had a mastectomy three weeks later! - Now on treatment - TAMOXIFEN - for five years! My SURVIVAL is thanks to God, and i am very grateful to my very caring and supportive mum and my husband who stood by me and helped me through a very difficult year!, also my caring son and daughter in law, my two brothers and their wives, my husbands sisters and my boss and colleagues and loads of very special friends that helped me cope. The experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer was and, a year later, still is very scary and it has definitely changed my life, my values, and my thoughts- My hair that i completely lost has grown back now - but total chemo curls!- The BEST way of surviving cancer is, when you have come through all the treatment, just believe that it is a BONUS to be alive.! Don't worry about how its changed your looks as this is just an external appearance, your BEAUTY is WITHIN you! Your really start SURVIVING when you appreciate the value of your family again, and even the sky and nature around you is something so beautiful which you may never have paid attention to previously.! SURVIVORSHIP begins for both YOU and your family when you realize that "THIS TOO SHALL PASS"! Do not make your cancer your whole life, instead extend those energies to your family and let them enjoy the fact that you have survived and are still around for them!!! To ALL breast cancer survivors, CONGRATULATIONS, you are a SURVIVOR... YOU have SURVIVED!!!!just continue to LIVE and Enjoy LIFE "one day at a time"|
—Guest Ragini Pillay

Survivor Now?

Finished all my treatments in January. Waiting for my hair to grow back. Now what?
—Guest Debby

We are all survivors!!!!!!

If you have been treated for cancer in any form and are here to talk about it. You survived it!
—Guest Guest Mae

A Warrior that hates the word survivor

i just completed radiation last month and for now i consider myself a warrior. I hate the word survivor...In the future I will consider myself a conquerer because yes i will defeat this disease..
—Guest sharon

After Treatment

i had a breast cancer surgery ....i will pass 12 times oncolology cancer. will it be ok.
—Guest setare

Still in treatment

I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in October 2012 and had a sentinel node biopsy in November to see if it had spread ( it had not ). In December I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I do not have to go through chemo or radiation, but will be on Arimidex for the next 5 yrs. At what point do I not say I have breast cancer, but I am a breast cancer survivor?
—Guest Donna G

Now - l can do this

l was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer in March of 2011 ...l am currently being treated with Herceptin and Anastrozole...l am truly blessed because the treatment has kept my cancer at bay...no surgery or radiation, and l may never be cancer free, but l am able to live my life ...l think of my cancer as a chronic condition,like diabetes or high blood pressure...who knows what tomorrow will bring...maybe even a cure...the most important thing has been keeping a positive attitude and the love ,support, and prayers of my family and friends.

14 Year Survivor

I considered myself a survivor once I completed my 3 surgeries to remove my Breast Cancer along with Chemo/radiation treatments and it was all gone. I have now celebrated my 14th year of surviving. You have to Love Life and make the best of every day and look for humor.
—Guest Ms Nora

Breast Cancer Survivor - Twice!

The doctor told me I had breast cancer the first time in October 1993. I had a lumpectomy, dissection of axillary lymph nodes, radiation, and chemo, with hair loss. I considered myself a survivor five years past diagnosis. Nearly fifteen years later, my doctors diagnosed a recurrence - in the same breast and same location as my earlier cancer. I had a mastectomy, breast reconstruction (my body rejected the implant) , and chemotherapy , not only with hair loss, but growing back white (I color my hair). It will be five years next year. I am most definitely a survivor!
—Guest Sue

Any breast cancer diagnosis is traumatic

I am almost 6 mo. post treatment. I had stage 1 breast cancer, lumpectomy, 2 surgeries, 6weeks radiation. I have found that most people do not want to hear you have had breast cancer. I had support from Sisters & close friends but anyone else has their own opinions. My road was not easy this past year, had major swelling, nerve damaged, to point I wished I had had a mastectomy! It's interesting to me how ignorant people are who think, Oh you just had a lumpectomy & didn't have Chemo, that's not so bad? Everyone cancer is different & experiences, no ones Journey is easy!!! I'm concentrating on staying positive, workout like crazy & try to eat right! Still enjoy my wine! Jeez u have to live don't you? Stay Strong!!!
—Guest Margaret Lee
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