There’s a saying among cancer patients, “You become a cancer survivor the day of your diagnosis.”

Some patients take that thought and use it every day they go for treatment, every day they go for scans, every day they are living with cancer.

It’s one of those phrases that empowers a patient.

Some patients don’t like the word “survivor.”  They don’t like the word “fighter” or “warrior” or any word that denotes a battle.  They don’t want anything to describe them as being different now that cancer has come into their world.

Leroy always said his cancer did not define him.  He was a journalist.  He loved rock and roll.  He was a terrific writer.  He never met a hot fudge sundae he didn’t become one with and family and friends were his constant life line.  He just happened to have cancer.

Did he put himself in that survivor box?  Probably not.

Did I, as the caregiver think of him as a survivor?  I don’t think I did because I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I always hoped it wouldn’t, or if it did, it would be in 30 years or more, but “surviving” the cancer wasn’t a concept I used to keep my hope alive.

I would look at Leroy and know that he was one of the strongest men I’d ever know in my life and he would do what ever it took to live.

Maybe that’s the definition of a survivor, after all.


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