• CAH's Avatar

    Achieving Survivor Status

    Asked by CAH on Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Achieving Survivor Status

    I realize this is a silly question, but I see so many people proudly proclaiming their survivor status (and rightfully so!) along with a date. When are you no longer a patient and considered a survivor? Is it when you finish treatment or does your doctor declare you cancer free? I complete treatment next week and am anxious to update my status! :)

    17 Answers from the Community

    17 answers
    • kevin_ryan's Avatar

      I am also interested in the answer to this one. I was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer last August and have had 11 of 12 chemo treatments. I don't know what happens after that other than more scans.
      I see the "relay for life" event that starts out with laps done by cancer survivors and then the supporting public, but do not see anything for those of us still going through treatment or if we still have cancer that is incurable.

      over 3 years ago
    • lchapman2000's Avatar


      This section of the report reviews the history and conceptual development of the terms “cancer survivor” and “survivorship.” In addition, some of the clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of cancer survivors are described using epidemiological data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Some attention is paid to the definitions developed by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) and NCI’s Office of Cancer Survivorship, for they have been adopted by the committee. While adopting these definitions, the committee decided to focus much of its attention on a particular period of survivorship—the period following first diagnosis and treatment and prior to the development of a recurrence of cancer or death.

      From a personal perspective, my oncologist told me that I was a survivor once I finished treatment and my scans came back showing no evidence of disease.

      over 3 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Historical/mathematical data regarding survival is based on time passed since diagnosis, so that a 5 year survivor would be a person who was diagnosed 5 years ago. The operative word is "cancer" survivor. You survive the cancer from the day of diagnosis (actually from the date it was first contracted but since that is unknown, they use date of diagnosis). Counting from the time of finishing treatment would more accurately be "treatment" survivor. Being a patient and being a survivor are not mutually exclusive. In Relay for Life events, the survivor lap is for anyone diagnosed with cancer, whether they are still in treatment or not or whether they still have cancer or not.

      over 3 years ago
    • Queen_Tatiana's Avatar

      I consider my husband a cancer survivor as he has been fighting and beating the cancer over and over again for the past 8+ years. I feel a survivor is anyone living with cancer or having won the fight. At the "Walk for Life" my husband walks with the survivors and his name is on a luminary--I usually walk with him as he is shakey.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      It depends on the person....I was told that you're a survivor the moment you are told that you have cancer....Sooooo for me, I count the day of Dx as my "anniversary"....others count from surgery or finishing Tx....do whatever makes the most sense for you....

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      My Oncologist told me I was "cancer free" 6 months after I finished chemo/4 months after I finished radiation. She told me that my anniversary date for survivor status is the diagnosis date. Be assured - you are a Survivor!!! Best of Luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • leslie48240's Avatar

      Absolutely...from the day you are told the devastating news that you have the dreaded cancer...(I always use a small 'c' to give it as little power as possibel) ...every day that you are alive you are a survivor!!! I know there will be days that you don't feel like it...but it is a mindset that is a necessary part of healing. Think of yourself as a mighty warrior (altho, perhaps decked out in pink and bald) going off to battle, rather than a victim. If you are still in the battle, or home from the battle after a bad day or week or even a year...you are a survivor! Sometimes I do refer to my time 'post-treatment' also...as the amount of time 'clean' is meaningful to me.

      over 3 years ago
    • LAPD's Avatar

      It is NOT a silly question! Congratulations to you on the completion of your treatment! Time for you to savor your life!

      over 3 years ago
    • Outlier's Avatar

      You sound like a Survivor to me....

      I see Survivorship as a state of mind. This while understanding a majority large number of
      folks might consider a Cancer Survivor as one whose in remission.

      I myself had been in remission for over 25 years from my 1st bought of Cancer before I became comfortable calling myself a (Cancer) Survivor. Looking back, I believe I became a Survivor the day I was first diagnosed. So a part of me living in Survivorship is acknowledging my journey from day one.

      over 3 years ago
    • Myungclas' Avatar

      The American Cancer Society counts years of survivorship beginning with the day of diagnosis. That said, my husband and I celebrate ALL of our milestones...the date of surgery when I was technically cancer free, the last chemo, and the end of radiation and the journey. I say you're a survivor every time you get up in the morning and keep on living. Congratulations on nearing the end!

      over 3 years ago
    • CAH's Avatar

      Thank you, fellow Survivors, for the feedback and the words of encouragement! I appreciate each of you sharing your thoughts and journeys.

      over 3 years ago
    • dls1007's Avatar

      I agree with lchapman2000 . I was first diagnosed in '93 at the age of 32 Once my treatments were over, I considered myself as a survivor. Then it reoccurred in '97 with mets to the bone. For me, ever though I was undergoing treatments, I still considered myself a survivor because I was still doing well and doing everything to beat it. It did until last year 2012.... it returned again in first place my first tumor was but is in my spine again and now in my lung. I still consider myself a survivor even though I am in treatment because I am doing well, working everyday and living my life normally except for going for my treatments ever three weeks.

      over 3 years ago
    • lilura46's Avatar

      I never say I'm a survivor even though my surgery was in July of 2010. I guess I'm afraid of jinxing myself. I still go for scans every 6 months

      over 3 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      You are a SURVIVOR from the day and moment of Diagnosis..Its not about being cancer free..Its about being alive in this very moment. You survived the DX, You survived the treatment and you are surviving it right now as we all speak...As of this very moment we are all active survivors and we will be so until the last breath we take which I wish and pray will be many many years from now for all of us.!!!!!!

      All the best fellow SURVIVORS !!!!!!!!!!

      over 3 years ago
    • JaneG's Avatar

      I too have been wondering about the definition of cancer survivor. Thank you to all for the wonderful answers. I've just started radiation but you are all right: the time you get your diagnosis you are a survivor.

      over 3 years ago
    • Cactus49's Avatar

      My support group said, "If you didn't drop dead of shock at your diagnosis, you are a survivor!" Carry on!

      over 3 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      Congratulations for being so close to completing treatment - yeah for you!! You sound like a survivor already. : ) I believe it was my surgeon who said everyone counts differently. Personally, I count from the end of my treatment. The last day of radiation was the day before Thanksgiving in 2010 (appropriate, I thought) and I count from then. I love what Cactus 49 said ("If you didn't drop dead of shock..."). Honestly, it's true. I laughed and cried at the same time when I read that. P.S. No such thing as a silly question. : )

      over 3 years ago

    Help the community by answering this question:

    Create an account to post your answer Already have an account? Sign in!

    By using WhatNext, you agree to our User Agreement, and Privacy Policy

    Read and answer more breast cancer questions.  Also, don't forget to check out our Breast Cancer page.