• I HAVE versus I AM

    Asked by legaljen1969 on Sunday, January 17, 2021

    I HAVE versus I AM

    We all live with our diagnoses day in and day out. I can see how that diagnosis becomes part of the every day speech in our life. For some, the reminders are more ever present than for others.
    I have been noticing the tendency, over the past few days, to state "I am TNBC" or "I am ...." rather than "My diagnosis is TNBC" or "I have ...."
    Maybe I am just hyper-focused on particular words right now, but I am wondering if it is, perhaps, common to identify yourself as your diagnosis.

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      I hear you, Jen. For the past few decades, medical schools have been training their students (and residency programs their house staff) to refer to their patients by name and description as people--not, as used to be the case, "the hot appendix in bay 5," "the lap choly in Ambulatory Surgery 3," or "the M.I. in 401 bed 2." We need to be allies in preventing any backsliding--I take great pains to say I "have," not "am," my diagnoses. Sometimes I will say "I was" or "have been diagnosed with (name of disease)," but I don't think I've personally heard anyone identify themselves here or in any support groups I've attended AS their diagnoses.

      about 1 month ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      But maybe I haven't been reading closely (or often) enough...

      about 1 month ago
    • beachbum5817's Avatar
      beachbum5817

      I say that I was diagnosed 7 years ago with Her2+ breast cancer. Then I say, so far, so good. I never say the word remission. I am afraid the I might jinx myself. Legaljen, thanks for the question. It really made me stop and think, Take care.

      about 1 month ago
    • JustForToday's Avatar
      JustForToday

      Legaljen1969,

      I am glad you asked this question. I was in solid denial for days after my diagnosis. When I moved from denial to acceptance I decided to treat cancer like I would a cold. I would get well and put it behind me. While I was in treatment my oncologist noted that when asked how I was doing, I responded that I was well. I told her that I wanted my positive mental attitude to reflect what I wanted my body to hear.

      Beachbum5817 now responds with "so far, so good". It occurred to me that I should be once again using "I am well". It want my body to hear that there is no evidence of disease, be it cancer or Covid

      Thanks for the question and thanks for the response that made me get back on my positive mental track.

      about 1 month ago
    • Lorie's Avatar
      Lorie

      I get asked about this at a doctor's office on a form so I just checked the correct box. I don't seem to talk about this with anybody cuz it Doesn't come up. I have a mammogram every year bloodwork for markers every 6 months . I do think about it a lot more often and I'm usually grateful that it was caught early. I'm just wondering if I'm in the minority or are there others who don't talk about it a lot or at all with other people. I remember one pretty close acquaintance who was diagnosed and I had a conversation with her but I don't remember what I said. Except to offer help if needed.

      about 1 month ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar
      legaljen1969

      @JustForToday, there is a lot of evidence that what we speak and think often becomes our reality. In the early days of my diagnosis, one of my father's friends gave me a little booklet
      "God's Creative Power for Healing." In one chapter, it has some affirmations to repeat. I still repeat them often and I have no doubt it helps.

      I know some on this board are not believers, and to each his/her own. I say the prayers often twice- once in the way it is written such as "Growths and tumors have no right to my body. They are a thing of the past for I am delivered from the authority of darkness." Then I say them again as "Growths and tumors have no right to OUR bodies. ... for WE are delivered...." I pray for each and every one of you every night.

      I only brought up the question because in some forum I read someone's remark "I am TNBC." It may not have been here. It was just something that made me sit up and take notice.

      I hear people all the time say "I am fat." I am guilty of this, as I have battled a weight problem for many years. When I started with my newest trainer a couple of years ago, he asked me "Why are you here?" I told him "I am fat." His response back to me was like a lightbulb moment. He said "Fat is an adjective. Not an identity." I think a lot of people turn adjectives and diagnoses into identities- maybe purposefully or maybe not.

      about 1 month ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar
      legaljen1969

      @Lorie, in general I don't talk about my condition much either. I find that most people just don't care or they overreact. I am glad mine was caught early too. This forum is pretty much the only place I talk about or delve deeply into my diagnosis. I don't "like" to talk about it with friends or family. I don't want to worry people. I feel like I spent 90% of my early days of diagnosis telling people I would be okay or helping them find ways to minimize their worry and concern. I became the caretaker for my "support system." It was hard because my doctors and my nurse navigator were telling me "We just have to do a few little things to take care of this and put this behind you." And then my "support system" was hearing "Major surgery...cancer treatment..loss of body parts." I mean, I knew all of those things were on the table, but I was more focused on how they would "help" me than how they would hold me back.

      about 1 month ago
    • Teachertina's Avatar
      Teachertina

      I love the “I am” for discussion of my situation. I am persistent, I am strong, I am determined, I am thankful, I am diligent, I am loving, I am kind, I am grateful, I am hopeful, I am positive, I am a survivor, I am a fighter, I am proactive, I am an advocate for myself and others, I am caring, I am happy! These are just a few of the things I am! When people have some kind of negative comments about the cancer I’ve been slaying for the past 15 years, I say something positive in return. I don’t care for Debbie Downers! My mama taught me that if you can’t say something good then don’t say anything at all! I try to live by her words! That’s what makes my world a better place!

      about 1 month ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar
      legaljen1969

      @ChicagoSandy, I hadn't really thought about doctors identifying people by their diagnoses like "the hot appendix in Bay 5." I can see two problems with that. First, it takes away the human factor and the person's name. Second, perhaps it causes others to not look at other possible treatment options. If you label someone that way, and it's the wrong diagnosis- it might close another provider's mind to other options or tests they could run.
      But you are absolutely right- we must not let that backslide happen.

      about 1 month ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      This is the first time I’ve ever read “I am IDC” (or whatever disease). What a weird expression! I always say, if the topic arises, that I had breast cancer years ago and have been okay so far. Yes, I include the “so far,” because with breast cancers, one can’t be sure it won’t come back (maybe that’s true of most cancers — one reason they are so feared, even more than heart attacks or strokes, both of which can very swiftly cause death).

      I’m an open book when it comes to my cancer. Again, when the topic comes up, there I am, boring people (but are they bored? Probably not, as cancer is interesting) with my cancer tale. If I were at a gathering and from across the room heard “breast cancer,” I’d knock people out of the way to get to the person who mentioned it. As the years have passed, I do this less, though.

      about 1 month ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      Personally, I like to say I battled cancer. It shows I did have an active journey without claiming ownership of or identity with cancer. We must be extremely careful about identifying personally with the conditions we battle, especially now in this pandemic world. We have many people coming back with positive COVID tests, and the virus is still a mystery. The thing a friend of mine observed was people treating one another as if they *were* the virus. We must back away from this kind of thinking not only for the patient's sake but for our own well being. HUGS and God bless.

      about 1 month ago
    • MarcieB's Avatar
      MarcieB

      @ChildOfGod4570, I could not agree more. I never want to be defined by circumstances of my life. I have encountered people who *live* in the tragedies and I never want to be around them for long.

      I know a lot of people prefer to keep their diagnoses and/or treatment private, but I never had that choice. My husband is one of several pastors at a fairly large church, so news of my diagnoses traveled very fast - there was no way I could *hide* it, even if I wanted to. the thing I remember most is how MANY women came up to me after a service and said things like, "I'm 7 years away from my treatment." or "Eleven years for me!" Women I have known for years and yet I had no idea they ever struggled with the disease. (!) Of course, there were many women in our congregation that I knew had gone through it, and they were extremely supportive (as we are here, for each other), but there were so many women who where new to our church , who told me their stories.

      Here's the thing - not one of them mentioned the type of breast cancer they had, not a single one. It was like we all silently agreed cancer is cancer, the main thing is to get rid of it as soon and as effectively as possible. My closet friend had TN, but I didn't even realize it until I had to struggle with whether or not to do arimadex. I talked to her about it and she is the one who explained TN to me, I had never really thought about it. (BTW I do take arimadex)

      Focusing on the types and stages and grades has never been something I do. If someone pinned me down about it I will say something like, "My cancer was triple positive." Because it WAS my cancer - it was the cancer that was in my body, so that is the truth. But my cancer is not who I am, not by a long shot.

      about 1 month ago
    • legaljen1969's Avatar
      legaljen1969

      @ChildOfGod4570, I don't shy away from people or deny my journey. Unlike people who have gone through so much more, it is definitely easy for me to not define myself by my diagnosis. Most people I know have no idea I have/had cancer. Not counting medical professionals I have encountered throughout my journey (my treatment team and their staff, lab workers, imaging folks, pre-surgical and post surgical people) AND those of you in this group, I would probably say the number of people who know I even know anything about cancer is probably less than 20 people. Unless someone asks specifically, I can't say I ever mention it. I don't really "let" it come up in conversation.

      I know just what you mean about people treating people who have tested positive or been exposed to COVID as though they are the virus. I feel bad for people who are shunned. It's not like it's a "Dirty" disease. Yes, it can be quite contagious but it's not like people get it from doing bad things. I also feel bad for people who are so misguided and ignorant that they would treat another person so unkindly. I know a lot of people fear the virus, but there is no need to treat people unkindly just because they had the misfortune of coming in contact with, or contracting, the virus.

      about 1 month ago
    • centered1's Avatar
      centered1

      When I am asked how I am today, I Always say "I'm Fantastic!". Cancer gave me far more than it took. I've had four major cancers (none related to the other) with-in a seven year period. When asked, I tell Everyone that God took me through 4 cancers and He loves me so much that, if He wasn't God, He would have none left for them....but He is.

      about 1 month ago

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