Once I completed my chemotherapy and the worst part of my nightmare was over, I thought about being a survivor. You often hear a person say something like, “I am a 5-year survivor”, but then it occurred to me, when am I technically considered a breast cancer survivor? What marks the first day as a survivor? Was it the day I had the lump removed? Was it the day I had my last chemotherapy treatment? Will it be when all of my surgeries are done including the reconstruction? Or is it something entirely different?
I went out on the web and started searching. The general school of thought was that once you find out you have breast cancer you are considered a survivor. That seemed completely ridiculous and counterintuitive to me! In my mind, when I found out I had cancer, that just made me a woman with breast cancer, not a survivor. However, I found a number of web sites that said that though this is the common school of thought, it is a personal decision as to when you mark the beginning of your survivorship. I liked that answer much better.
I thought about it. For me, it certainly was not the date I found out I had cancer, so strike that off the list first. And it wasn’t the end of chemotherapy (though surviving it was heroic!) because I technically didn’t have cancer when I went through the chemotherapy; it was adjuvant therapy.
Then I made my decision….the day my body was rid of cancer was the day I had my lumpectomy – that was the day I was going to go with.
So I have been a breast cancer survivor since September 28, 2012!