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Surviving Breast Cancer – Are we really different people for it?

I was talking to an old friend last week who I haven’t seen in over twenty years. He had heard that I had Breast Cancer and told me he was really sorry for not reaching out- that I must have gone through hell and how was I? It struck me as so odd- all I could really say is thank you, but I am fine.

I was diagnosed three and half years ago and my life has just gone on- as so many Cancer Survivors lives do. Is being a Cancer Survivor a label we are supposed to wear with sorrow and sadness? Should we dwell on the “poor me” and live our lives with a cloud over us? Is being a cancer survivor supposed to transform us and make us become new, better and thankful people because of it?

Other than Cancer taking a physical toll and my having physical scars and unwanted tattoos, I am the same person I was pre-cancer diagnosis. If I was kind then I am kind now. If I was nasty then, I am nasty now. If people loved me then, they love me now.

I am no different than any other woman walking on the street. But sometimes I think I have entered into an eternal membership of the sisterhood of the “I had Breast Cancer Club”. Don’t get me wrong- it’s a great club… but I don’t want my life to be defined by that. I have a successful career, a wonderful family, a good life- I just happened to have gotten cancer. But like any woman would do, I did what I had to do to fight it and beat it, so I could continue on with my life and be there for the people that needed me in their lives.

A while ago there was a Blog going around asking your opinion if you thought cancer was a gift, that because of cancer we learn to take time to appreciate life and not sweat the small stuff. This is yet another myth and frankly another head trip to make us feel obligated to change and become a different person after Cancer.

I have always appreciated life, even before I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. And honestly- I’ll always sweat the small stuff because that is who I am.

Having survived Breast Cancer does not define me- it is the path that my life took.