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Cured vs. Healed

fishmanpa's picture
Posts: 1216
Joined: Jan 2013
As I recover from cancer treatment, it's become quite evident that I've not been cured of my illness. 

When we speak of a disease, we often tend to think of it in absolute terms. Curable and incurable. This is due mostly to the way we think of medicine and the way modern society thinks of it. It doesn't take into consideration the in-between or gray areas in which most of life unfolds.

The words “healing” and “curing” are often used interchangeably and thought to be the same, but their definitions couldn't be more different. Curing is a restoration of health, an absence of symptoms, and a remedy of disease. Healing, on the other hand, is a restoration of wholeness — not the level of wholeness before the diagnosis, but a restoration of wholeness that is new, different, and can be better or sometimes worse than before the onset of disease. Healing doesn't remove all the symptoms, but it's an integrative process that transcends the physical and includes mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn't hear the word "cure". I heard "treatable" and it scared the bejeebers out of me. When I met with my team at Johns Hopkins, they assured me they could eradicate the cancer but never did they use the word "cure". I asked my MO about it and she said this: "You will never be cured, you will always be a 'survivor'. We will kill the cancer and we'll heal you but it will always be a part of who you are from now on". Those words couldn't be more true! From the moment of diagnosis, your life changes and will never be the same.

So I'm healed. More accurately I'm healing. I have a way to go before I reach what will be considered my "new normal". The person I was before diagnosis is vastly different to the person I have become. I've been forced to look within and change the way I live my life. I have to eat differently and compensate my day to day life due to side effects from treatment. Hopefully, the person I am now will pale in comparison to the person I will become as personal development and healing has no real end. Healing is an uncomfortable and lengthy process because it requires changes to a multitude of areas, including what you eat, drink, say, think, and do. It may and probably will require seeking help from professionals as you break old, unhealthy patterns and create new and healthier ones.

Here's to what we will become!
Positive thoughts and prayers
Posts: 117
Joined: Oct 2013

Great  insight.


CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4303
Joined: May 2012

Hi T,

Well put, but with a caveat.  Your struggle to the “new normal” has been made more difficult than mine by nature of our professions.  I truly believe you will see improvements which satisfy your needs.  The infamous “it just takes time”, “be patient”, “slow and steady” all ring hollow, when you want and need to see improvements now. 

You are a strong and positive person which got knocked for a  loop, 8 months may seem like forever in real-time, but we both know you answer to H&N time and it is all messed up.

I understand the cured vs healed and sometimes feel like neither is enough, yet.  I struggle with speaking clearly, loudly and long enough.  I would be happy to just be left alone to do the paper work, but I can’t, my boss wants interaction (that sucks).  I find I have to be more methodical and selective in my actions and my words.

In the end, you may set your bar high, but be happy with the small improvements and hopefully they will sum up to big improvements.  You may need to tweak your goals a little.

Best always,


j4mie's picture
Posts: 218
Joined: Sep 2013

and good thoughts to keep in mind. The path to the 'new normal' is a long, and winding road, with many peaks and valleys for sure. Staying positive is the biggest part of the battle in finding what works now that things have changed. Stay strong and carry on friends!


Ron Silver
Posts: 85
Joined: Apr 2013

My oncologist repeatedly used the word "cure."  We are going to "cure"you.  Repeatedly.  Note Stage 4 Tonsil Cancer.  Also note that this was said, repeatedly, when starting treatment.  Never said again.  Even after NED pet.  


Maybe "cured" means NED.  No evidence of disease.  No evidence of cancer.  Cured.  Cancer eradicated.  


You may be "cured" but you are still "healing"' from the disease/treatment.  Maybe we will always be "healing."


 Cured, but continually healing.  


Are we ever really "'healed."  Possibly.  I don't expect to ever be 100% healed.  I expect there always to be deficits-saliva, taste, throat tissue changes, neuropathy etc.  

donfoo's picture
Posts: 1644
Joined: Dec 2012


Your words express much introspection of late, maybe a reason behind not seeing you as much lately. Healing from cancer involves both physical and mental processes. Those whose journey on the road to recovery is relatively smooth and swift, nimbly and adroitly merge back onto the same freeway exited when the cancer was discovered. Their new "normal" is strikingly similar to the old "normal and they fortunately glide around obstacles encountered by those whose healing experience is not as fortunate.

Certainly, the larger the gap between new and old "normal" one faces, the greater the effort necessary to bridge what was, what is, and what will be. Hard working health professionals strive to achieve the best health of body and mind. Yet eradicating the cancer elevates treatments and therapies of the body. Treating the mind is relegated to a supporting role while treating the cancer then once treatment is complete, it all too often just falls off the action plan.

Since cancer treatment plans often downplay or even fail to address the psychological damage needing as much healing and repair as the body, one must advocate for themselves and reach out and engage those who specialize in these issues. Maybe the cancer is never classified as cured but curing the mind is achievable when one is comfortable and at peace with the new face in the mirror.

Knowing the psychological damage and trauma is curable provides the boost to acknowledge and engage the process for healing the wounded mind. Choose and contact the doctor who best understands this facet of the cancer experience and get the process underway.


Posts: 1914
Joined: May 2012

Is there ever going back to a resemblance of what we use to preceive as "normal" before we faced the dragon head on ?  What does cure mean ?  We use to use the word remisssion when it came to completed tx's.  Now it's NED.  I have to hold on to the belief that a cure for all cancers is right around the corner, with the science backing the research.  And the brave souls that have been in the trials and on the forefront of this war.  There is so much indepth detail to this that it is mind blowing.  In my little tiny corner of the world.....I try to educate people about my dx.  I try to get them to understand the impact it has on not just the person, but the family.  T....you are excellant with words.....use them to benefit our cause.  Never ever lose yourself, I tell myself this every single day when I wake up.  I do believe there is a sense of healing that happens to us all.  Trying to wrap our minds around the acceptance of what is and what will be.  I can only offer my words of encouragement and solace in some cases.  But I will always walk this walk life has thrown at me with a sense of peace and purpose.  Hugs sent !  Katie

Posts: 839
Joined: May 2013

and relate to what you are saying.  I feel that I have been healed.  I don't think *I* even use the word cured.  My first oncologist said "this surgery will be your cure", and that was the only time I've heard the word.  I heard "now you can heal", "let the healing begin" and "after rads is when you can finally heal".  I feel that all of the nasty cancer cells are gone.  I feel like I've been blessed beyond words and healed of this disease, but I am very different now.  A lot of me is still the same ol' funny, crazy Tracy...but there is a lot that will never be the same.  I think so many people who haven't been through it don't truly understand that we have an entirely new normal.  We have adaptations in so many areas that we have to make now.  I find so much comfort and understanding in groups like these, because I know y'all really "get it".  It's definitely an adjustment to me being held back from things, but I'm slowly getting used to how things will be from now on.  I think that's part of healing too. 

denistd's picture
Posts: 578
Joined: Apr 2009

I am currently in treatment for PTSD. This was caused purely by having to endure the every day shadow of the disease, shrink feels I will get better emotionally over time, and with his help, I hope so, I can hit terrible lows and no real highs. You are so right Don. Denis

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