Now that I am an official member of the cancer survivor group I feel I can express my thoughts on the idea that many cancer patients hear, " Don't let your cancer define you!" & " the gift of cancer."
I try to do a lot of cancer support for others who have been diagnosed with the cancer. Just last week I heard of a young 33 year old Mom, who was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma....and her diagnosis was frighteningly similar to mine. An original diagnosis of stage I and 10 years later, a diagnosis of stage IV.
Melanoma is sneaky like that..... ugggg.
Alright, back to my main idea: Does cancer define me? Should it? I hear so many times that us cancer patients should not allow our diagnosis to define us. I beg to differ.....
I am a stage IV melanoma patient. I am currently NED, and proud and relieved to say NED for 2 1/2 years NED. Am I my diagnosis? Well....yes I am! Cancer hit my life like a ton of bricks and cancer will always be a part of my life. I will always be seen by a doctor to ensure I am NED. I will always spread awareness and hope to others facing a devastating diagnosis.
I also want to address the idea of cancer being a "gift." What did I get from having cancer? Sure, I appreciate life...I appreciate being alive and the time with my family and new experiences. BUT A GIFT?? No way! I would not wish anyone to go through the diagnosis of and the treatment of cancer. It scares you to your bones.
Contrary to cancer lingo out there, I do not see cancer as a gift and I do define myself as a cancer survivor. Cancer definitely changed who I am, both physically and mentally. I will continue to do my part, as a survivor, to bring awareness to people about melanoma being so much more than "just skin cancer."
It's okay with me if you define me as Stephanie who had cancer.... How do you feel about this?