People With Cancer Explain Why They Call Themselves Thrivers and Warriors

Through a survey on social media, CURE® collected responses on what terms people prefer when describing their cancer experiences. Some people who have experienced cancer explain why they have embraced the terms "thriver" and "warrior."

The words people choose to describe their cancer journeys matter, especially since people with cancer may have mixed feelings about specific terms. For example, the label “cancer patient” may make some people like their identity was being taken away from them.

In a recent #CureConnect question, we asked the CURE® audience on social media, “Which term do you prefer? Survivor? Thriver? Patient? Something else? Why do you like certain terms and dislike others?”

We had a diverse array of responses, showcasing the spectrum of feelings people who have experienced cancer have about the language used to describe them. In a series of posts, we hope to highlight why people with cancer have such strong feelings about being labeled in certain ways.

In today’s post, we highlight why some people with cancer want to be called “thrivers” and “warriors.”

Thriver Resonates with Some

“I’ve narrowed it down to thriver and survivor. I’m OK with warrior but despise the ‘lost the battle with cancer’ statement. I love the idea of thriver becoming more common.” - Amanda W., a woman with stage 4 colon cancer who is currently no evidence of disease.

“Definitely thriver! I’m stage 4, so not sure I’m surviving cancer, but I am thriving!” - Amanda L., a woman with triple-negative breast cancer.

“I prefer thriver. Immediately upon diagnosis with invasive ductal carcinoma two years ago, I was determined I would not just survive but conquer and thrive (life).” - Susan

“Thriver for me — it’s much more accurate to how I live my life with stage 4 cancer.” - Bethany W., a woman with metastatic breast cancer.

“Thriver. To me, thriving means doing well. Surviving means, just getting by.” - Cara S., a woman with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed with cancer, I'm still a cancer patient. ... I like thriver because that is where I want to be but not there yet. I talk about my cancer experience. I loathe warrior with a passion. In 10 years, I might feel more comfortable with survivor.” - Fabienne M, a woman with bilateral breast cancer.

Others Feel Empowered by Warrior Language

“Warrior! That's what you need to be when you're in the thick of (a) battle with cancer. I'm now fortunate to be able to also like the term thriver! No matter what stage you're at, no matter how hard, keep going!” - Sheila M.

“Warrior because I am living with an incurable cancer! Key word here is living!” - Debbie K., a woman with lung cancer.

“I call myself Warrior Megsie because I think about being a superhero always trying to escape the darkness that can come with complications from treatments and multiple surgeries. I don't relate to patient or survivor or thriver at all.” - Megsie, a woman who had invasive lobular breast cancer and is six years no evidence of disease.

Embracing Gratitude
“I embrace my journey and look forward to being a cancer warrior around the next bend. (Until) then, I'm a Black woman plodding this path with the love, prayers (and) support of my remarkable cancer posse. Simply put, I am blessed.” -Doris Helene White, a woman who has been diagnosed with stage 3 cervical and stage 1A uterine serous cancers and a CURE® contributor.

“Survivor and thriver! I survived the ups and downs of cancer and I’m thriving, living my best and blessed life after cancer!” - Tamron Little, a mesothelioma survivor and CURE® contributor.

“Alive or living every day with purpose and gratitude.” - Patricia I.

Want to hear more thoughts from people who have been impacted by cancer? Check out our blog page, which is updated daily with insights from patients with cancer, survivors, and their caregivers.

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