My name is Karen and I am a retired social worker. I hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Adelphi University; I am licensed to practice Social Work in the state of New York and I am accredited by the National Association of Social Workers (ACSW). I am also a Breast Cancer Survivor. I’m not sure why, but I am not fond of this term. I certainly want more than anything to SURVIVE, but I’m not fond of labels. I guess there is a part of me that just wants to be the “me” before my diagnosis. I don’t want “survivor” to be my identity; I do not want cancer to define me. I do, however, understand the necessity of labels in providing an identity for funding and for kinship. Both “survivor” and “warrior” (I believe the term “warriors in pink” originated with the Ford Motor Company in their efforts to raise funds for the cause) can be empowering in that they depict the strength and endurance necessary to fight this disease and to raise the funds necessary to find the cure.
Everyone with cancer goes through their own private war and prays to come through their battle a winner. Your body becomes a battleground and the disease and the treatment processes are an assault on the body and the mind. Your life is never quite the same again, no matter how much you might want to pretend differently. My experience in battling this disease and the accompanying psychological impact is my reason for writing this blog. There are psychological/physiological and emotional reactions that when understood can be somewhat less frightening. The recognition and understanding of these responses as “normal” is an important component to the healing process of body and mind.