Survivorship: What Does It Mean?

Written By Lauren Shorser

The term “survivorship” gets bandied around a lot in the cancer world. People talk about the survivorship experience, survivorship care plans, survivorship programs… the list goes on. But what does it all mean?

You’ve probably come across the term “survivor” and have heard survivors described as “… anyone touched by cancer from the time of diagnosis onwards. This includes patients as well as their family, friends and caregivers.”1 In short, anyone affected by cancer can be considered a cancer survivor.

This definition is not universally accepted – not everyone with cancer likes the term “survivor” or how it is used. But this definition is the one most commonly used in the cancer world and the one we use at ELLICSR.

Cancer survivorship, then, is “the process of living with, through and beyond cancer”2. Essentially, survivorship is how survivors deal with daily life. Because survivorship has such a broad definition, all sorts of things can be a part of it. These include:

  • Coping with a cancer diagnosis
  • Coping with treatment side effects
  • Working during treatment
  • Returning to work after cancer treatment
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Many others

Cancer survivorship is different for every person because every person who goes through cancer has a unique experience. But even though no two people will have the same experience, sharing your story with other people can be a source of strength and encouragement for both you and the people who hear your story.

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer filmed some survivors talking about their experiences – watch the videos to hear their stories.

In the end, cancer survivorship is all about you.



1 Basic Information About Cancer Survivorship, Centres for Disease Control

2 About Cancer Survivorship, Cancer.net