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Once You Are Diagnosed With Multiple Myeloma Are You A Cancer Patient Or Survivor?

Posted on March 14 2010 by Pat Killingsworth | 1,016 views

You probably have never noticed this, but I rarely refer to people (including myself) with multiple myeloma as survivors.  I use the term “patient.”  The universal definition of “cancer survivor” is anyone who has been diagnosed but is still alive!  So technically, we are survivors.  Yea!  But unlike those who have been treated for–and recovered from breast or skin cancer, for example–it just hasn’t ever felt right to call myself a cancer survivor.  Why?  After all, I refer to  my wife (cervical, uterine, ovarian cancer) as a survivor all of the time.  I guess it is because, in most cases, multiple myeloma isn’t curable.  To me, the term “survivor” has always implied cure–that this former cancer patient at least has a shot of being in the clear.  With multiple myeloma–except maybe a year or so after transplant–it seems we “myelomiacs” (the term my friend and fellow blogger Don Wright uses to avoid this discussion!) are always patients.

Just a rambling reflection from someone who has started to take his writing much too seriously!  We are alive!  We are survivors!  No matter what the weather–cold, snowy, windy, rainy or bright and sunny–wasn’t today a beautiful day!
Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Lori Puente Says:

    I would have a fundamentally different point of view on this. I met a young man who had had testicular cancer a few years back. I asked him if he was in "remission". He said he never uses that word, because it implies that it is coming back. He is "cancer free".

    I urge folks to read Anatomy of an Illness, by Norman Cousins to get an interesting dissertation on the power of the mind in how it views such things as illness.

    In the Myeloma community we often say we can't find the "survivors" – because they are out living their lives! Kudos to them and keep on going. I stopped recently blogging on our caring bridge site for Dave because I felt that we were "through it" and that the site which was set up to keep friends and family informed had done its job. But now, we are out the other side of all the major medical intervention and to keep it going was to somehow not be moving on, it would continue to have MM having a hold on our lives. We are not living in lala land. Myeloma often comes back, not always, but more often than not (although these numbers keep improving). Right now, for us, MM has been an "event" in our life, epic I will admit, up there with the birth of our children and the loss of parents, but only an event. It no longer defines us and that feels really good right now.

    Patient definition: a person who requires medical care

    Survivor definition: one who lives through affliction

  2. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Very insightful and well written, Lori! Thank you for contributing- Pat

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