Saturday, March 23, 2013


 I was asked to be part of an article on survivorship for Cure magazine.  Here is the link.

I didn't think of myself as a survivor, until I was asked to write a speech for the local Relay for Life event last year, as a survivor.  I questioned if I had the right to say I was a survivor.  I knew what I had been through was horrible and traumatic, life changing and still with me, but was I a survivor?   I hadn't survived a natural disaster, a tornado, a hurricane, a car crash,a shooting, or an assault.  I just had melanoma removed from my leg and I was told I was fine.  But, why did it feel like so much more?  Because, it was much more than a mole removal.  It changed me completely. 

 I thought about the word survivor.  I looked up the definition of survivor and found this.

"Survivor-  a person regarded as resilient or courageous enough to be able to overcome hardship, misfortune; a person who survives; to carry on despite hardships or trauma and persevere;  to live."

Then it hit me.  We are ALL survivors.  If you are not gone from this earth, you are a survivor. Anyone battling melanoma, no matter what stage, is a survivor.  I am a survivor, and YOU are a survivor.  A lot of people struggle to call themselves or even think or themselves as a survivor.  Some feel guilt for surviving when others have not. I didn't realize how many people must feel like this, until I did this interview.

 During the interview, I thought back to the Relay for Life.  I was proud to be part of the survivor walk.  The survivor laps were amazing.  It was so emotional.  I really allowed myself to be a survivor that day.   I imagine that a lot of those people have also struggled with the survivor tag.  If you think of yourself as a survivor, are you saying that you are free and clear of melanoma and can go about your life and just forget it?  Are you jinxing yourself that you will have a reoccurance, or that you won't ultimately survive because you walked around thinking you already survived?  It is very interesting that most of us are humble about it.  Just like not thinking of yourself as a warrior because your cancer is not as bad as someone else.

I was asked during the interview about the post I made regarding stage discrimination, A Stage By Any Other Name Is Still Melanoma.  The interviewer wanted to know if I felt that there were a lot of people that are higher stages that were non supportive of lower stages.  I said, "Absolutely not.  I have never encountered anyone that has ever tried to make me feel like I was not as much of a warrior or survivor as them, because I am stage 1 versus stage 4, until that happened.  Everyone is so supportive,compassionate and caring towards one another.  I don't know what I would do without my online buddies.  I reached out in the very beginning of my melanoma journey and I have made a lot of good friends that have helped me tremendously and selfishly.  We are like a family."

That is true.  I honestly don't know what I would have done without the support and love from all of my online melapals.

So, do you feel you are a survivor?  Do you feel guilty for being a survivor, or have trouble calling yourself a survivor?  

I have one friend, every time I ask how he is doing, he replies, "Surviving."  Maybe we need to do more than just survive.  Maybe we need to make sure we are really living our lives.  Let's not just survive, let's remember that life is a gift and we should not take it for granted. 

Get out there and LIVE.  Life is not promised.  It can be gone tomorrow.  Carpe Diem~Seize the Day!!

1 comment:

  1. Your post mirrored my own thoughts about the word "survivor". You might have read it in my last blog post. (since you are my first follower!!!) So encouraging to hear your thoughts. There are a few out there that don't consider early stage cancer as "real", but they are the lesser. It must feel wonderful to be included in this article. I don't know if you have read Hillary's book, "Pale Girl Speaks", but the thing I loved most about it, was that she was stage 1. It still alters your life in a big way. Great Job Melissa!!! <3