What is a Survivor?

I was at the Komen Breast Cancer Issues Conference a few weeks ago, and I was staffing the Pink Phoenix exhibitor table. Pink Phoenix is a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team of which I am a member. As conference attendees visited our table I would ask, “Are you a survivor?” Since our team is comprised only of breast cancer survivors, I didn’t want to recruit someone who couldn’t actually become a member.

Over the course of the day when I asked this question, several times I got the reply, “Well, I haven’t actually reached the 5 year mark, so I don’t really think of myself as a survivor.” Five years? Really?

I must of missed that in the massive amounts of material on breast cancer that I received from various doctors (and I’m not joking…I even got a 3-ring binder from my oncologist!). I had no idea that 5 years was the industry standard in declaring oneself a survivor.

I considered myself a survivor once I finished treatment…because not only had I survived breast cancer, but I had also survived the treatment. I’m still alive…doesn’t that make me a survivor? I think hitting the five year mark will just make me lucky…the ten year mark, even luckier (you get the idea).

And thanks to Pink Phoenix, I discovered that thriving is the actual goal. I’m glad that I survived…now my eye is on thriving.

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