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I'm a Cancer Veteran, Not a Survivor

Posted: 02/14/2013 12:39 pm

I never was comfortable with being called a cancer survivor. To me it gives too much power to cancer and not enough to the person. People survive earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, terrorist attacks, all powerful and overwhelming events and all events over which we have very little, if any control. The word survivor does not always denote action to me. It certainly is not as passive a term as victim but still leans toward being on the receiving end of things.

We don't tend to call people who are successful with other fatal diseases survivors. If you Google cancer survivor, you'll get around 12,000,000 hits. Heart attack and stroke survivors get a total of 416,000 hits. Alcoholism, which is also a 100 per cent fatal disease if not treated, gets about 1,000 hits when the word survivor is used.

Notice too that we say that someone who is cured from cancer is a survivor yet an individual who died from the disease lost a courageous battle. This puts all the power in cancer's hands. The winners were survivors, a term that can be active or passive and the losers were warriors who fought like hell and still lost because the disease had all the power. This is backwards. Kind of like saying we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway. We need to take power away from cancer by ensuring that everyone who encounters it is called a warrior and label those that came through this awful mess as victorious. The fact is that the more you participate in your own recovery by fighting cancer or any life threatening situation with everything you have, the greater your chances of winning

I like the term cancer veteran. A few hours after this term came to my mind, a reflexologist at a cancer support centre independently voiced his preference for the term veteran over survivor. Soldiers are trained as warriors and become veterans, not survivors. Regardless of the battles that they are in and the wounds received, they are all called veterans. They have been there, done that, got the medals and the ball cap. Veteran is a much more active and participatory term than survivor.

So please don't call me a survivor. I now have the medals for recovering from two fatal diseases, alcoholism and cancer and am earning a third medal for currently going through a second cancer battle. I didn't just survive these things, it was not a passive experience at all. I fought like hell, participated in my own recoveries, won two of the battles and am winning the third. Please call me a veteran.

For more posts, also see www.cancerslessons.com

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  • Abuse: Not Meeting Responsibilities

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Repeated substance use to the point of not being able to meet responsibilities -- not performing well at work, being suspended from school, being repeatedly late or absent from required duties, or neglecting household tasks.

  • Abuse: Involving Risk

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Repeated substance use when there is risk involved, like operating equipment or driving a car while under the influence.

  • Abuse: Difficulties With The Law

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Repeated difficulties with the law related to substance use -- being arrested for physical aggression or drunk driving, for instance.

  • Abuse: Personal Or Social Difficulties

    <i>Abuse, the regular use of a substance that leads to serious psychological and/or physical disability, is shown by one or more of these symptoms during the same year:</i> Insisting on using the substance regardless of continued or repeated personal or social difficulties because of it, verbal or physical aggression with a loved one, or frequent arguments about the substance use.

  • Dependence: Needing Great Amounts

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Needing greater amounts of alcohol to satisfy cravings.

  • Dependence: An Inability To Reduce Use

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Using the substance longer than planned or more frequently and in greater amounts. An inability to reduce use, despite a sincere wish to do so.

  • Dependence: Going Through Withdrawal

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Going through withdrawal when not using alcohol, with symptoms such as tremors, restlessness, and agitation.

  • Dependence: Avoiding Withdrawal

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Taking a substance or a similar one to avoid the effects of withdrawal.

  • Dependence: Spending Time On Alcohol

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Spending a significant amount of time trying to acquire the substance. Spending less time at work or on other activities because of substance use; a person may completely abandon previously enjoyable activities.

  • Dependence: Drinking In The Face Of Difficulty

    <i>Symptoms of alcohol dependence, a physical need to drink, are identified as three or more of the following within the same year:</i> Continuing to drink despite being aware that alcohol is causing psychological or physical difficulties.

  • Addiction: Saying Inappropriate Things

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Does he/she frequently say inappropriate things?

  • Addiction: Slurred Speech

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Does his/her speech slurred?

  • Addiction: Missing Work

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Does he/she miss work?

  • Addiction: Off Balance

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Is his/her balance off when they walk?

  • Addiction: Trouble With The Law

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Has he/she gotten in trouble with the law, for example, with drinking and driving?

  • Addiction: Health Problems

    <i>Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction specialist in New York City, helps determine the severity of alcohol addiction by asking the following questions:</i> Is he having health issues related to alcohol addiction, such as heartburn, liver problems, high blood pressure, or insomnia?

  • Question To Ask: Should I Cut Down?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> C stands for cut-down: Do you ever feel that you should cut down on your drinking?

  • Question To Ask: People Getting Annoyed?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> A stands for annoyed: Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

  • Question To Ask: Ever Felt Guilty?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> G stands for guilty: Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?

  • Question To Ask: Drinking To 'Recover'?

    <i>Take the CAGE questionnaire -- if the answer to two or more of the four CAGE questions is yes, it is likely you have a problem.</i> E stands for eye-opener: Have you ever had to drink as soon as you wake up to steady your nerves or get over a hangover?

 

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