But finally I found someone who really explains it well as to why you should ditch the s-word. I was catching up and finally reading a copy of Readers Digest from last September and came across an article called "Don't Call me a Cancer Survivor". The author is a hospital chaplain for the last three decades or so and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. With her diagnosis she learned a lot.
"One surprising thing I found was that only a small part of the cancer experience is about medicine. Most of it is about feelings, faith, losing and finding your identity, and discovering strength and flexibility you never even knew you had. It’s about realizing that the most important things in life are not things at all, but relationships. It’s about laughing in the face of uncertainty—and learning that the way to get out of almost anything is to say “I have cancer.”"
Upon her diagnosis she was instantly given pink ribbons, told about the upcoming walk, luncheons, and more. Someone actually told her that her cancer diagnosis was her 'wake up call'. (She wanted to hit him but couldn't because it was right after surgery. I would have hit him for her if I was there.)
She realized that being a cancer s-word was taking over her life.
"That’s when I told myself, “Claim your experience; don’t let it claim you.” We know that the way to cope with trauma, loss, or any other life-changing experience is to find meaning. But here’s the thing: No one can tell us what that meaning is. We have to decide what it means. And that meaning can be quiet and private—we don’t need to start a foundation, write a book, or work on a documentary. Instead, perhaps we make one small decision about our lives that can bring about big change."
She did move on and became happier. As part of being a chaplain she sat with many cancer patients through their treatment. She also got to see her former patients later to see how they were doing. She met with one woman and her daughters to learn that she was now NED. She started telling her story of diagnosis and treatment again and that emotional roller coaster.
"At that moment, her daughters stood up and left to get coffee. I handed the woman a tissue and gave her a hug. Then, because I cared for her, I told her, “Get down off your cross.” She said, “What?!” I repeated it. To this woman’s credit, she was able to talk about why she was clinging to her survivor identity. It got her attention, and people took care of her, for a change. Now it was having the opposite effect and pushing people away—they kept leaving to get coffee."
That is exactly my point. An s-word is not a person. Its a label. It might help you get through treatment but its not you. Let yourself deal with the experience and go on with life. Do not let you become someone who you aren't.