I Am More Than My Diagnosis: A Year in Review
Last updated: April 2021
In our Impact of Cancer Survey, we asked what terms people diagnosed with cancer preferred and disliked. The answers were all across the board, from survivor to metavivor to “just call me my name.” One theme became clear: people are more than just their diagnoses.
As 2019 comes to a close and a new year begins, we’re celebrating all our writers across our cancer communities who’ve spoken back to cancer and supported others to do the same.
I may not get to do everything I have left or want to do, but by no means do I let this pest design my destiny. - Yolanda
When it comes to cancer, “you’re sooo strong” can feel condescending and alienating. While cancer doesn’t suddenly create strength, growing and adapting after diagnosis does. In the articles below, patient advocates talked about what strength means to them:
- Yolanda talked about finding her inner superhero as she battles blood cancer in Strength...What’s That?
- Linda shared how having breast cancer inspired her to change people’s perception of cancer in 5 Things I Want My Family and Friends to Know About Life with MBC
Now that I am older and fighting the battle of my life...my mind drifts as I sit in my favorite recliner and listen to those never-ending tics. How many more tics, I wonder, will I be blessed to hear. - Duane
Cancer puts up unimaginable mental and physical roadblocks. It takes creativity, determination, and patience to move through them. Two advocates talk about how their outlook has changed post-diagnosis:
- Duane describes the ways advanced prostate cancer messes with time and how he's learning to make the most of each moment in Tic Toc
- Susan explains how she began to accept the “new normal” that was her advanced breast cancer diagnosis in What Is "Normal" Anyway?
Every time I have reached a milestone, I’m very happy to have made it to that point, but I soon find something new to focus on. It’s never enough. However much I get to experience of important moments in life, I still want to experience more and more! - Ivy
Building a life after diagnosis - is it possible? These authors discuss their approaches, from planning for the future to living in the now:
- Dan learns that it’s not just about big milestones but each day and each season with man’s best friend by his side in Catching Shade
- Ivy reflects on the uncertainties of cancer and her every-changing milestones in It’s Never Enough
A cancer journey is certainly never smooth or easy, everything that is happening is outside of our control. We keep going because we have to. We have no other choice. Our journey is mapped with tests and more tests. Then the awaiting of results, tumor grading, treatment, hospital visits, lots of hospital visits, and so it goes on... - Shirley
Not everyone considers cancer itself to be a journey, but it’s safe to say there’s a distance between diagnosis and today. Two writers look back at their diagnoses and how they got here:
- Maxine looks back on the first hectic hours post-diagnosis, and how support made all the difference in First 24
- Shirley reflects on the drastic changes in her outlook and personality with bladder cancer in The Courage I Gained as a Cancer Survivor
Even though we’ve never met and know little about each other’s personal lives, we have a common bond. We are warriors fighting the same foe. - Jim
What does it mean to be part of a community? Why do we need other folks who really get it? These patient advocates chart the path that led them to advocacy and activism:
- Ken finds comfort in community after a traumatic stage IV melanoma diagnosis in A Walk in the Park: My Stage 4 Melanoma Journey
- Jim went from loner to family man to blood cancer advocate. He discusses the power of a common bond in Beach Grass: This Community’s Strong Roots
Thank you to all of our community members and advocate teams...we’re looking forward to another year of strength, overcoming obstacles, growing resilience and making connections in 2020!
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