Tag Archive for: cancer survivorship

What Does Cancer Survivorship Mean?

What Does Cancer Survivorship Mean? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Kathleen Ashton and Erica Watson, a cancer survivor, explore the difference between being a survivor and survivorship. They discuss what cancer survivorship entails and Erica’s experience of finding a new normal in her journey as a survivor.

Dr. Kathleen Ashton is a board-certified clinical health psychologist in the Breast Center, Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Learn more about Dr. Ashton.
Erica Watson is a breast cancer survivor and patient advocate.

Related Resources:

Cancer Survivorship | Ongoing Healthcare and Follow-Up

Cancer Survivorship | Ongoing Healthcare and Follow-Up

Cancer Survivorship | The Positive Impact of Peer SupportCancer Survivorship | The Positive Impact of Peer Support Becoming Empowered: For Cancer Care Partners_ How to Access the Support You Need

For Cancer Care Partners: How to Access the Support You Need


Katherine Banwell:

Dr. Ashton, I’d like to start with a definition. If you would tell us what the difference is and the importance of survivor versus survivorship?  

Dr. Ashton:

Sure. So, people define being a breast cancer survivor at different points along the way, and even different oncologists really think about it, dating it from different times. So, some people date it from when they were diagnosed. Other people will date survivorship from after they had their surgery or after they completed chemotherapy.  

So, everyone looks at it a little bit differently. But survivorship is really more of that process throughout someone’s life after breast cancer; taking care of surveillance, working with their doctors, ongoing lifestyle changes that they may be undergoing after breast cancer.

Katherine Banwell:

And, Erica, what does survivorship mean to you?  

Erica Watson:

I am just living with a purpose now, I guess. I have not defined where my survivorship term starts or end or starts actually. So, I’m intentional about laughing more and doing things that bring me joy and sharing my story.  

I try not to pay attention to the small things in life that used to get me all stressed out. I talk to my medical team, I ask questions, I dance in the mirror when I hear good music. I mean, I’m just trying to get the most out of life that I can at this point. And I wake up every day with gratitude, and I just go.  

Katherine Banwell:

Yeah. Do you feel like you’ve had to adjust to a new normal?   

Erica Watson:

Oh my gosh, yes. I tend to, I guess I’ll say question things a little bit more than I did in the past, and specifically as far as my medical team; I’ll ask if I can do a thing or another with traveling, whether or not I can exercise or sit in the sun.  

I have to pay more attention to my body. I have to pay more attention to the things that I eat, those kinds of things. Which I really didn’t pay too much attention to in the beginning, but breast cancer is a part of my life and will be a part of my life. It does not define my life, but it is a part of it, and I have to pay attention to that.