Yesterday, I gave a talk relating to my upcoming free online course – Should I blog? In it, I introduced myself as a breast cancer survivor/warrior. One of the participants challenged that language – preferring the use of the term ‘thriver’ rather than ‘survivor’.
In deciding how to introduce myself, I was fully aware of the ‘thriver’ term, but not yet comfortable with it. You see, ‘thriver’ does have a bit of the connotation of ‘cancer as a gift’ which is an idea that I both despise and feel guilt over (I blogged about my feeling of guilt). For me to be a ‘thriver’, I need to take what I have learned from my breast cancer journey and internalize it in my new way of living — my new way of understanding who I am — I need to finish re-claiming my professional and academic identities, before I can call myself a ‘thriver’.
To me, the term ‘thriver’ represents something that I am striving for. It represents the ‘new normal’, post-cancer Becky, that I have not yet achieved. I may no longer ‘have’ breast cancer, but I am still recovering from the multiple assaults to my system that was breast cancer treatment. I am still fighting to identify as a ‘survivor’. I think I need to finish processing who I am as a breast cancer survivor before I can move on to being a breast cancer ‘thriver’. One day, I hope to use that term to identify myself, I’m just not there yet.