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What is a Cancer Survivor?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

A cancer survivor is generally defined as anybody who is either in the process of surviving cancer or who has already had treatment for cancer. With that definition, anybody who currently has cancer or who has had cancer at some point in his or her life can be considered a cancer survivor. There are some difficulties associated with surviving cancer, some of which are physical and some of which are emotional or social.

Many people break cancer survivors up into categories based on what phase of cancer survival they are currently in. The first phase is often called acute survivorship, and it would generally include anybody who is being treated or still suffering with the direct effects of cancer. The second phase is called extended survivorship, and this generally includes all people who have went through treatment and are trying to continue their lives afterward. Both phases of survivorship have different challenges that individuals must overcome.

A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, a type of cancer.
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, a type of cancer.

When trying to survive cancer, there are often many lifestyle changes that a person has to make. For example, many people may need to give up certain poor habits. Others are generally required to change their diets or take certain supplements and medications. After having cancer, many people make a concerted effort to improve their overall health, and this can involve increasing the amount of exercise they get.

An early stage breast cancer may require a mastectomy, which can improve the survival rate for patient.
An early stage breast cancer may require a mastectomy, which can improve the survival rate for patient.

Another major challenge that many cancer survivors have is mental. For example, they may have a lot of fear about the disease recurring. These anxieties can make life very difficult for many cancer survivors. Sometimes people may worry that every sickness they get may have something to do with their cancer returning, and learning to deal with these fears is generally a big part of overcoming cancer.

A cancer survivor can often have lingering physical problems that can make life more difficult. For example, a lung cancer survivor may have difficulties with breathing that will never go away. Sometimes during cancer treatment, doctors are required to remove certain body parts or organs, and this can leave people with permanent challenges.

Some cancer survivors may have problems in their social or professional lives. They may worry about telling new people about their cancer because they fear it may lead to special treatment or being singled out. When people get cancer, it can also be a very stressful time for family and friends, and this can cause people to behave in inappropriate ways, which can lead to long-term difficulties in relationships.

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    • A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, a type of cancer.
      By: Alila
      A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, a type of cancer.
    • An early stage breast cancer may require a mastectomy, which can improve the survival rate for patient.
      By: derege
      An early stage breast cancer may require a mastectomy, which can improve the survival rate for patient.