Sunday, June 6, 2010

From Cancer Previvor to Cancer Survivor: What's In Between?

In a wellness watch, The Energy Times May 2010 dedicated a special issue to cancer. Its theme, taking responsibility, applied not only to in-the-news-topics like health care reform, but more specifically to the individual's need to take charge and care for one's life. In perusing its cancer resources by organization, I found one that added a new vocabulary word, concept, and an answer to a question mulling around in my mind ~ previvor.

According to FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, a proactive and must-visit website, you can beat back cancer despite a predisposition toward acquiring it.
"Cancer previvors" are individuals who are survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor. The cancer previvor term evolved from a challenge on the FORCE main message board by Jordan, a website regular, who posted, "I need a label!" As a result, the term cancer previvor was chosen to identify those living with risk. The term specifically applies to the portion of our community which has its own unique needs and concerns separate from the general population, but different from those already diagnosed with cancer.
While FORCE focuses on breast and ovarian cancers, the term previvor is useful in approaching wellness. I learned that my father's cancer increased my chances of becoming a cancer patient by 50%; for my brother, even more, since our father died of prostate cancer. My brother remains cancer free, but a cancer previvor, as I once was. Now, my mission is to transcend cancer, becoming a cancer survivor by beating back cancer. Although my form of NHL is a slow-growing version that is not fatal, still the cancer can spread to other organs, so I am not out of the cancer woods.

Today, what's left of it, is National Cancer Survivors Day, and while I an not a cancer survivor, I am not a cancer previvor either, just someone who is challenging the disease that inhabits her body. Like Jordan on the FORCE message board, I feel the need for a label for where I am now, in the middle, not pre, not sur, just there. So I am going to think of myself as a BBC-er. When I created this blog, I gave serious thought to calling it BBC, but knew my love of the British Broadcasting Company would confuse my blog's purpose. It might have brought me readers faster, but I would prefer to be found and perhaps read through a more legitimate vehicle. So I am a Beating Back Cancer person or BBC-er for short, and that will make me a survivor.

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