Survivorship: Life With Cancer

Written By Nour Alkazaz

When I hear someone say that they're a survivor, I am immediately taken back to my early high school years when I would watch Survivor the reality show. The show was constructed to have viewers eagerly anticipate the physically and mentally exhausting challenges of the contestants. In that context, the survivor was the one who won the game; the one who survived all the elements; the one that walked away a million dollars richer.

When I first learned about "cancer survivorship" I made the naïve assumption that to be a cancer survivor meant to come out unscathed from the storm that is treatment.

Quickly I learned that this doesn’t even skim the surface.

Image of mural various quotations.  Main one says "After this I will think nothing of falling down stairs"


Cancer survivorship is about the journey as a whole, from the day you're diagnosed (even all those tests you do beforehand, too) until the end of life.

Crazy, right? I told you I was so naïve.

But survivorship is more than just the journey. Over the past few years I have met many cancer survivors and some have become my friends.

If there is one thing that I learned from my new friends, it is that survivorship is about living life to its fullest potential, despite the challenges you may face because of a cancer diagnosis. Survivorship is about making yourself your #1 priority and doing the things you love; it is about living.

But who am I to define survivorship? Here’s how some people living the experience explain it:

“For me the life part of cancer is tough, the fact that life goes on even with your cancer diagnosis.”

“I learned to go on with life and live... I see so many people down and pushing life away and I want them to open up and smile a little more and be happy a little more.”

“You need to take time to just take care of yourself and put yourself first. You need to be healthy and enjoy life and prioritize and know what is more important.”

How do you describe survivorship? Share your description on Facebook.