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Can I consider myself a survivor?

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

I've never been involved in a discussion group and am not really sure how to do it. My question may seem a little off, but here goes. When a mammogram showed abnormalities and I had a surgical biopsy of both breasts, the report that came back said, "bordering on ductal carcinoma". After a visit with an oncologist, I was advised that I should have a bi-lateral mastectomy. He said that because of the fybrosistic tissue and the difficulty in reading the mammograms that there was no guarantee there wasn't more that they couldn't see. He told me that if I had the surgery while it was still "borderline" that unless more was found, I shouldn't have to have the chemo or radiation. I have also been on horomone replacement for about 10 years. He said that if I waited until it was no longer "borderline" that I would have to go off the estrogen. Not a fun thought. So after some soul searching, I opted for the mastectomies. Nothing more was found in the lymph nodes and my doctor told me I had made the right move because if I had waited another six months, it wouldn't have been such a happy ending. Now a year later and after reconstruction, I feel kind of isolated. It's like, I know something big happened (everytime I look in the mirror), but I almost feel guilty that I didn't have to undergo what most of you did with your chemo or radiation. I don't know what to call myself. Am I a cancer survivor?

cruf
Posts: 931
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi Robin. Yes, you are a survivor. You don,t have to undergo chemo and radiation to be a survivor. I only had one mastectomy and reconstruction and didn't need chemo or radiation and I definitely am a survivor! We went through alot emotionally and physically .I will never know what all these other woman are going through. I can only imagine and can continue to pray for them and thank my lucky stars I am cancer free(at least for now!) Live each day to its fullest! You are just as beautiful now as you were before surgery. Try to move on and stop dwelling on what you look like now. You're ALIVE! Be thankful!! Good luck! Keep in touch. Cathy

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

Cathy and Brenda, thank you so much for your encouragement. I kow it sounds stupid, but it has really been bothering me. There are so many events and activities that I'd love to join in, but I never really knew how other people that have gone through what you must have would feel. It's nice to hear it from someone who's been there.

bdean
Posts: 262
Joined: Feb 2001

My dear, you are a cancer survivor big time in my book!! You met the enemy before it could organize, and beat it before anything could even begin. I congratulate you on your victory. Please don't feel guilty for not having to suffer through chemo, etc. Be proud you got ahead of the game. Just do not ever let your guard down--keep a close watch on your health and have yearly physicals. You are an inspiration to those who might be dragging their feet about getting something suspicious checked out. I pray they follow your lead and not mine. I was in denial for awhile and I paid big time for it.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Best of luck, Brenda

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

Brenda--thank you so much for your reply. I'm sorry that yours wasn't detected earlier. I will take your advise not to let my guard down and will celebrate the fact that I am a survivor--part of a wonderful group of caring people as I have discovered since finding this page. Thanks again...

tcbangels's picture
tcbangels
Posts: 115
Joined: Jun 2001

Robin
In my book you are a survivor, I don't care what kind of treatments you had,that don't matter, you had the BIG C WORD, when you had that you are a survivor.Ihad it 6yrs ago & they caught mine in time.I had a masectomy with 6months chemeo, so far thanks to the Sweet Lord it has not came back.Always i mean always think positive love cheryl

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

Thank you, Cheryl. It has meant so much to read others' stories. I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I wish you the best...

24242
Posts: 1417
Joined: Mar 2001

We all have to endure and survive. Lucky for you the diagnosis was early intervention and not cancer like some of us. You have been spared some pain. We are all survivors from the day we have to face something like this.
Be good to yourself.
24242Tara

luckyj
Posts: 26
Joined: Apr 2001

Dear Robin, I rummanged through some old MAMM Magazines to find a letter that the president of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship had written regarding survivorship. It hit home with me. This is part of it...."from the time of discovery and for the balance of life, an individual diagnosed with cancer is a survivor. This definition also includes family, friends and caregivers. Survivorship is about living with hope and the full knowledge that death may be hastened due to illness. For many of us, it is a powerful and compelling concept. Survivorship affirms that death is neither defeat nor failure. For the 8 million cancer surviviors in the USA it also illustrates that we can survive and even thrive in the face of an often excruciating experience with cancer." Something big, as you recognize, has happened in our lives and today we have surived it. Keep moving forward. Love to you. Love, Luckyj

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001
robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

Ooops--hit the wrong button.

Luckyj--Thank you for that wonderful quote and for taking the time to look it up for me. It has been so uplifting to find this page and all the caring people who visit here. I appreciate wisdom and will move forward as you suggest. Thanks again...

judyd
Posts: 130
Joined: Nov 2000

Hi Robin, I was diagnosed in Nov. 2000 & had a mastectomy in Dec. I have not had reconstruction yet. I did not have to have chemo or radiation. I have been on taxomifen since January. I am very thankful for being where I am right now. A lot of the ladies on here have been through so much more. We are all survivors. Being diagnosed sure has a way of changing your life I think. We just have to all try to stay positive in our fight. good luck to you. Judy

lauramarie's picture
lauramarie
Posts: 39
Joined: May 2001

Dear Robinh... You may indeed consider yourself a survivor!!! and be very thankful you've not been through some of the treatments some of the ladies here have. And it's not unusual to feel a bit isolated after what you have been through... I didn't have a reaction to all I went through untill months after the treatments and reconstruction. We never know how we will handle things such as this... and they dont give you a guide book to tell you when to have a melt down and when to feel good.... All we can do is take things one day at a time. I wish you the best of luck in the future. Laura

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

Laura--Thank you for your sharing your story with me. I'm glad to know that it's not unusual to experience the emotions months later. It's like at the time, I just did what I had to do and felt like I was handling things well. Then all of a sudden, when things seemed to be back to normal, I started having these emotions that I wasn't prepared for. Thank you...

cherdaetwyler
Posts: 165
Joined: Dec 2000

Of course you are a survivor.
You are one of the lucky ones whose radiologists saw the abnormalities among the fibrocystic masses. I wasn't so lucky as they watched mine wax and wane over 14 years before any calcifications showed up.

I am surviving too. But will never be pronounced cancer free.

Be happy that you have this chance. You are a poster woman for early intervention. Use this opportunity to talk to your friends, to the waitress who brings you coffee, to the young woman who sits beside you on a bus.

It might just save their life.

cher

robinh's picture
robinh
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2001

Thank you, Cher. You're right, I owe so much to the radiologist. I even went back afterward and thanked him personally. Each doctor I saw commented on how impressed they were with his finding it. They all said they could see it on the mammogram after he had circled the areas, but that they didn't believe they would have noticed it...And I have made it my mission in life to make sure that all the women I know get regular mammograms. I even think I'm beginning to get annoying :)

rae_98390
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2000

Robin,

Hi, yes you are a cancer survivor. It is go great that your doctor found it so early. Hallelujah, you did not have to undergo chemo therapy. Please do not feel guilty. I consider you a great winner in the battle against cancer. It is encouraging to me.

The people here on the board are so wonderful. Isn't it nice to have others to talk to that know what you have been through?

Take care,

Cindy

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