As Relay for Life approaches, I had someone ask me about walking the 'Survivor Lap’ … followed by: “... when do you actually become a [breast cancer] survivor?"
I gave the answer I'd been given: "5 years" ~ but that stuck in my head and I kept thinking "5 years ... that's the magic number, huh?? 5 years ..."
Actually, I was a survivor the day I was diagnosed and didn't die.
Living with Crohn's Disease for well over 1/2 my life, I have had to literally learn to live with it! Not just ‘it’ but the treatments and surgeries and medications and complications that goes along with it ~ diets, good days, bad days, blood transfusions, hospital stays ... whatever ... However, you're never classified as a 'survivor' of Crohn's. You're a person living with Crohn's.
It made the think even more about the "5 year" answer and, for me personally, I don't think that is correct.
I think I became a person 'living with a double mastectomy' but I am a survivor every day!
I don't have a magic number.
Both illnesses have been a war ~ a battle ~ and I fight parts of each every day. I see 'battle' scars when I look in the mirror on my breast and my stomach. I feel pains in places that, theoretically, I don't have (phantom pains is what it's called ~ nerve sensations that you can't touch or soothe). I cope with symptoms and weaknesses; my weight and energy goes up and down like a roller coaster! Physically and emotionally, I will never be the person I was before either diagnoses. I see 'whole me' in my sleep and I cry for what I have lost ... But, I LIVE for what I have left!!!!
Yes, I am a survivor ... I am alive and I am thankful and blessed. My physical imperfections are tools being used to strengthen me, even in my weakness, and they allow me the opportunity to appreciate each day! To Smile! To Laugh! To Love! And, yes, to LIVE LIFE!!!
My first year @ Relay walking the lap was surreal for me, but I was surrounded by my friends that loved me and supported me ~ encouraged me and helped me heal!! So on this coming Friday night @ Relay, with a heart full of love, a soul full of gratitude, and an uplifted spirit … my friends and my faith in my almighty God… I will walk that "Survivor Lap' with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness knowing that I made it one more year!!! That I LIVED ONE MORE YEAR ... by accepting the gift of each day that lead me to it!!!