Saturday, October 17, 2009

Definitions are all relative

This blog was originally written on 5/19/08.  Just my opinion, and at the time I was deep in treatment.

I participated in my first group therapy session today.
I am part of an online group meeting. We meet every Monday night. Much easier or so I thought than doing one live and in person.
Today I went to the infusion center and was in one that they have every Monday at 2pm. I have been invited to join every Monday since the group started. Normally I don't like talking about myself to perfect strangers (yeah I know I am on the radio so I do it almost every day, but this is different, because you actually see the peoples faces who you are talking to) but I decided that I would try it. Susan, the social worker who is in charge of the group would ask me to participate when I would come in for my chemotherapy treatments. Well since the medications make me fall asleep I thought I wouldn't be that interesting to listen to as I would probably fall asleep during the session. How rude!! Not my fault I blame the drugs. Anyway as we were waiting there was a lady there who was a 2 time survivor of breast cancer. She asked me if I was a cancer "victim." Ok that really got my ire up. First of all I am not the victim of anything. If you get diabetes are you a diabetes victim? Or get the flu are you a flu victim. No I think not. defines victim as "one who is harmed or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency or condition. " That could be defined as almost anything. Yep I drank way too much wine last night, therefore I am a hangover victim. I ate too many chips at the mexican restaurant therefore I am a nacho victim? NO!! I immediately corrected her and said I am a patient or survivor. Maybe she feels like a victim, but I do not. I don't really feel like a survivor either. Most people say you are a survivor as soon as you are diagnosed. I don't really know how I feel about that word either. defines survivor "to carry on, despite hardships or trauma, persevere, to cope with a trauma or setback, persevere after." Ok so I guess by definition I am, but I won't be done with my herceptin until December, so I still feel like a patient. I think I will feel more like a survivor when I get this damn port out. Ok so I digressed. Back to the whole group therapy thing, I guess it was a little cathartic. There were a couple of people there, one lady who had inoperable liver cancer and one who was a breast cancer survivor for 10 years. We all talked about our own experiences, drugs we take and our caregivers. It was a good experience. If I can make it for more I will, depending upon work schedules. Oh well my last thought is this. If you see someone,or talk to someone that has or had cancer, don't think of them as a victim, or even if you do, don't call them that, that lady didn't know me or my experiences, maybe in her mind she is a victim. but in my mind I am not.
We also got this cool book called crazy sexy cancer at the group meeting. I found a good quote in there and I will leave you with it.
"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." John Wayne said that.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you on the naming debate. In my book Everything Changes, I use the word patient. I talk in the intro about how it is an imperfect word but for me it feels the most accurate. I'm not in remission and I don't feel like a survivor. If I knew I was going to survive all of this, it would be a hell of a lot easier. Even the John Wayne quote doesn't feel right to me: if I don't get in the saddle I die. Not much of a choice. And there are some who do chose to not take treatment, not get in the saddle, and it is a valid choice, so what do we call those folks. Ah, in the end "I have cancer", "I'm a cancer patient", "I had cancer" seem to be the phrases that best describe the situtaion to me.

    Great blog.