I dislike the term Cancer survivor. I know I am going against the grain here. But it sounds so defeatist. You survived. And what happens when the cancer returns? You have to come to terms with it again, at the end of which, you will again claim survival.

We survive tsunamis, and while cancer can be compared to some sort of tsunami that goes on inside the self, I would think that we should not be happy with mere survival.

Before the operation, Janet and I decided we should use the term conqueror. But I am not happy with that either.

One of the last things the book AntiCancer points out is that we should not use the term fight to describe our relationship with cancer. I thought about that for a while. It makes sense. If we all have cancer in our bodies, then what are we fighting? Our own bodies? Does not make sense. Specially if one of the cancer helpers is stress. Fighting creates stress. Fighting cancer which is thriving in my body therefore, increases my stress which only helps the cancer.

By no means do I prescribe pacifism or a laissez-faire attitude. But fighting is surely the wrong way to think.

Cancer survivor, or conqueror are both terminologies of war or a warlike mind. Neither is healthy as a mind set in the best of circumstances, let alone when dealing with cancer.

Our whole system is based on a contrarian nature. We are fighting all the time, whether it is the weather, as in fight the snow storm, or fight the cop who is giving you a ticket. We fight the system. The boss. The partner. The taxman. The court system is based on two parties fighting one another. None of it does anybody any good. More would be achieved through cooperation.

In all these situations, you are fighting something external to you. In the case of cancer, you are fighting something internal. You are fighting yourself.

Peace and harmony should be the goal. Bring harmony to the body and mind. Bring peace to your spirit or soul. Meditate. Pray. Sing songs. Do whatever it takes, but don’t fight.

We do need a statement that would let people know that we have had cancer, or still have it. A statement that makes us feel positive about our condition. We have to be vigilant and lead a life style that will help prevent its spread or return. Given that vigilence, we are not survivors or conquerors.

What are we then?

5 Responses to “Some thoughts on Cancer Survivors”

  1. Farokh! I just emailed you today and mentioned the battle that you’re in- and that it is indeed a battle…(I clearly hadn’t read this post yet!)…

    But I still stand by it… you’re going through something that is hard- the bad weather and tax man and the evil boss times a million. And cancer doesn’t want to cooperate with you. So you need to kick it’s ass.

    Maybe the secret is not just celebrating the win in the end – but also celebrating the victories along the way- your milestones. Getting through your first chemo treatment. Eating a full meal without upset stomach. Sleeping 6 hours. All battles that have been won and deserve to be celebrated. So you’re also experiencing triumph and not just fighting. Maybe that’s the harmony?

    But that’s just one perspective. And I like your idea of finding another term that is more positive than ‘survivor’- and will give it some thought.

  2. hi farokh,

    i’m a friend of nushin and mehran.. emailed you a while back. my husband has a colostomy bag (crohn’s colitis) and is doing great. he also had thyroid cancer, and did more than just survive. we came up with the term ‘cancer thriver.’ hope you like it.

    i love yr blog, feel the power of yr life force, and believe you will get through this with flying colors.

    all best

  3. You nailed it right on the head . That is precisely what homeopathy says. what people consider a disease and an external thing we have to fight, is really an internal voice from our own vital force, saying help. The process is a journey of finding ourselves. After a rough start with the chemo, we learn more of our own meekness, we remember to slow down and enjoy the breeze, enjoy the naps, enjoy the rays of sun shining through the trees on an autumn day, that warm us up after a chemo. We learn more about our spirituality. I heard a song a year after my treatments by Lee Ann Womack – I hope you dance, it is kinda country so if you hate country sorry, but it really touched me and if you listen to it you’ll see she sings of choices to be made and she says I hope you dance. So in the dance of life, I chose to not sit on the side lines, I dance, and I feel such healing when I visualize that… so I am a cancer dancer.

  4. Dear Farokh,
    Yes, I like the “thrive” option, too. “Cancer survivor” that replaced the older “cancer victim” moniker is also problematic.

    I love this blog. And I love you, Janet and Dev, too.
    Mary Rykov

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