What do you consider yourself: A lung cancer “victim?” A lung cancer “survivor?” Or both? (Or neither?)
I know a lot of times, my mom, feels like a helpless victim. I believe a lot of this stems from the fact that she has lung cancer – the #1 cancer killer and the least funded. On top of that, she has never smoked. So, in many ways, it’s a triple-whammy.
It goes something like this: “No one is listening to me. No one gives me hope. No one is funding this cancer. Oh, and I didn’t even smoke, so I get that lovely stigma attached to me along with it. Fantastic. So, ROCK ON, I am a lung cancer survivor.”
As we know, lung cancer is no longer a smoker’s disease, with 60% of all new lung cancer cases coming from never smokers or former smokers, many whom have quit decades ago. But, then again, she IS surviving. She is fighting what her doctor’s call her “inoperable,” incurable,” stage IV lung cancer. She’s a fighter, no doubt about it. But when do you migrate from feeling like a “victim” to a “survivor?” Does it come in waves? For some, I imagine it doesn’t ever come. And for others, the whole “victim” part may not even enter their minds. I don’t know and can’t possibly know. I don’t have cancer.
I’m also assuming this may be a “typical” cycle of emotions for anyone who is battling any kind of cancer. But, do you think it is harder for those diagnosed with lung cancer to ever really mentally/emotionally/physically consider themselves “lung cancer survivors?” Some people definitely do beat their doctors’ predictions of “3-6 months left to live.” Some do beat the five year survival rate, which sadly remains virtually unchanged at 15%, since 1971 (the year I was born). And, absolutely, there are some, but very few, “actual” survivors. But, is “beating these deplorable odds” what lung cancer patients have to accomplish in order to feel like “survivors?” I’m seriously asking because I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out as the daughter of a mother with lung cancer.
I do know that many people feel very passionately one way or the other. I am a “victim,” or I am a “survivor.” I’m sure there are many other feelings in between. I completely respect however any cancer patient feels about their disease at any given moment. I want to hear from you. I want to know what you consider yourself. Or, do you even label yourself at all? If not, why? If so, what are you…and why?