I Am a Survivor

Do I consider myself a survivor? Yes, I do. Per the definition of a survivor by the Oxford dictionary, "A person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died."

You see, the term could be used to mean different things. Having gotten through a cancer diagnosis and surgery, I consider myself someone who has survived what others haven't, unfortunately, had the chance to do and has coped well with the difficulties that a cancer diagnosis has brought.

Many people don't like to use the term; of course, that is okay.

Survivor's guilt

For some people, there is "survivor's guilt." They feel guilty surviving when others have not survived the journey or are still on the journey.

This is a natural feeling. You have been through a very traumatic experience.

"It's cancer."

A cancer diagnosis is not something that anything in our life could truly prepare us for. We may have been through other life-changing events. We may have seen others go through a cancer journey.

However, personally, nothing prepares you for hearing the words. "It's cancer."

A world turned upside down

A friend told me a year ago, "Laura, now I really get it." She supported me throughout my bladder cancer journey, and I always felt she understood.

She explained that until she was in the doctor's room when the doctor diagnosed her mother with cancer, she realized just how much the words stung. The words couldn't be taken back, and right there and then, their journey began.

That is something that, while it dulls as the years have passed, still haunts me sometimes - 2 small, simple words. Two words turn your world upside down. "It's cancer."

The term "survivor"

Others don't like the term survivor as they feel they are tempting fate. By saying you survived, you are saying you have been through it, it's behind you, and it will never return.

While many factors, including the time from symptoms to diagnosis, cancer staging, age, and sex, can all affect your outcome and your chance of "survival," most people acknowledge that a recurrence, especially with bladder cancer, is always possible.

For me, though, that's not a reason not to consider myself a survivor. After all, it wasn't easy physically or emotionally, but I got through it.

A new purpose in life

As I learned from others along the way, I feel I can now use all the knowledge I have gained to help others through their journey or after they get through it. I survived, so I am capable of helping others on their journey.

Being a survivor has given me a new purpose in life. It has inspired me to share my story and become a bladder cancer advocate.

They say you only start your recovery once you get home after surgery, and I think that's very true. I also believe some of the emotional recoveries only really begin when your mind is ready to cope with it. For me, that was definitely once my surgery was behind me, and I was making good roads on my physical recovery.

As of today, I am still here, and I am a proud stage 4 bladder cancer survivor.

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