Was I a lung cancer survivor?
On the morning of October 3rd, I had a bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy and a thoracotomy. It took me a month to find out the results of my staging. It was an 1b, no N or metastasis. My surgeon told me that there were no successful follow-up treatments for my stage and type of cancer, a fast growing adenocarcinoma. He said that all I needed were chest Xrays and CT scans every six months. I felt that I was I getting a raw deal. I thought that you have to go through the whole shebang to be a survivor. Weren’t chemo and radiation ritual treatments? I wanted things to be fair, and I needed to feel that I had had all of the advantages of being a true survivor as anyone else. Chemo or radiation would be proof of that!!
I needed to think that I was considered a lung cancer survivor. In 1997 the definition of a lung cancer survivor was very clear. You were considered a lung cancer survivor if you lived five years beyond your cancer. I asked my local doctor how long my survival rate was for my type of cancer and she said that it had improved to eighteen months.
A drowning man will clutch at a straw. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)
I clutched very had to that theory and felt exhilarated every time a year passed.
I remember one time about a month after my surgery; I was standing in the grocery line. There were two people in front of me; a friend and her friend. My friend asked me how I was doing and a conversation started up between all of us about cancer. The gal in back of me even chimed in!! All three had had breast cancer and chemo or radiation! I felt awed by these women, warmed as if the sun wrapped me in its heat, like the Florida sun on an orange, ripening its fruit. They were truly lung cancer survivors. And I realized that I didn’t really need to have chemo or radiation to be a survivor. I was a survivor!!!
My doctor left me with some pretty impressive scars and they itched and were an angry red as they healed. My staples had been taken out in the hospital. They were my reminders of how big of a deal the operation was. And I survived!. I didn’t have to wait the full five years to have that title. I was a lung cancer survivor!! Yes, I was!!!
I don’t know why there is such a controversy over who a lung cancer survivor is or not. This makes no sense to me at all. Would you be a survivor if you were hit by a car and almost died? To me, a survivor is someone who is alive after an event where others have passed away. It doesn’t matter if you had a hand in your survival or had help.