After 300 Million Infections It’s Time to Knock It Off With the “Survivor” Nonsense
Would you ever call yourself a "flu survivor"?
It is deeply offensive to me for people who’ve caught C19 to call themselves “survivors.”
Obviously, they had a virus. Every day, many viruses infect many people. Most of them survive.
It is common knowledge that every human on the planet has survived an encounter with a virus. Some viruses are known to cause symptoms in most everyone they infect. Despite the best treatments some are even fatal.
None of those are COVID-19. We commonly know that it’s is mostly survivable, with more than 99% of the infected going on to live. As it is with HPV, herpes simplex, cold viruses or flu viruses.
If you had the flu and lived, are you a “flu survivor” because the flu has a similarly small fatality risk as corona? The common cold is caused by a virus, but since it’s not fatal, no one claims survivorship for having lived through such an infection. Are you a “herpes survivor” because your lip sore went away, or are you an “HPV survivor” because your penile warts didn’t kill you? Certainly not, that would be ludicrous.
You’d have as much claim to survivorship as any other flu or virus patient– which is exactly zero. Unfortunately, virus-lovers, refusing to release the object of their obsession, cannot grasp the fact that calling themselves “survivors” is obviously far, far from reality. Or that it’s incredibly disrespectful to real survivors.
When failing to wear a pointless piece of fabric or a person standing too close brings people to violence, then perhaps it is fitting for today’s irrational, unhinged virus-lovers to tell themselves they’re “survivors” for having had what is basically just another flu.
No, you only get to call yourself a “survivor” if you faced something that without intervention is 100% fatal, and lived to tell the tale.
Cancer is fatal. Without intervention or treatment, eventually it will kill you. Even with the best treatments available it takes lives.
Unlike coronavirus, which is almost always survivable– especially when effective treatments are not intentionally withheld. You’re no more a virus survivor than you are of a car ride across town or a meal eaten without choking or a bout with the common cold.
Surviving something survivable is far from noteworthy.
This not only diminishes the true survivorship of cancer patients, but also cheapens the term “survivor” in general.
I’m sure more than a few virus-lovers are upset by such an opinion. “Only a person who’s had either cancer or C19 even gets a seat at this table!” they scream.
And to their embarrassment, I disclose that I’ve been sitting at the Survivor’s Table for years. The corona cases just showed up a few months ago, uninvited, unwelcome, and refusing to leave the unearned high chair they’ve jammed between our adult chairs.
You see, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma shortly after my 30th birthday. Six months of badly worsening health drove me to a doctor, and a biopsy confirmed my illness.
I then spent another six months being further sickened as they brutally poisoned me every other week with the usual horrifyingly toxic and caustic compounds and other adjuncts given in the standard chemotherapy protocol for Hodgkin’s.
The standard my oncologist normally used for HL was four cycles of chemo and then two of radiotherapy, but he was confident that radiation was not needed if I was given two extra cycles of chemo instead. This nearly destroyed me physically, mentally, and the effects persisted more than a decade.
I experienced every single symptom you’ve ever heard of. It was the worst I’ve ever felt and the longest I’d ever felt that sick. I hear virus patients talk in traumatized tones about their short bout with less severe symptoms– and I envy the brevity of their illness. I should have been so lucky.
From the onset of symptoms to the end of post-treatment recovery and therapy, I spent more than a year sick, very badly at most times.
Many times I was so sick I expected to die in my sleep. Other times the pain was so bad, I had to use so heavy a dose of morphine just to sleep that I worried about never waking up.
From being unable to stand up long enough to cook for myself to losing 30% of my body weight the symptoms were constant and worsened as the chemo went on. For months. Each week worse than the last.
Especially after an infusion, the symptoms were the absolute worst I’d ever experienced, before or since then.
I’ve had two-week bouts with pneumonia so bad I was nearly hospitalized, and of course have had as many nasty cases of the flu or a cold or random bug as anyone else. Being sick isn’t a big deal for me, it’s just a fact of life.
But the chemo was far, far, worse. Horrifying. A nightmare you can’t wake up from. No end in sight. No promises of recovery or remission. The only thing that will make it eventually better is if you keep feeling worse by taking more chemo. The only things you know about your future are the upcoming chemotherapy infusions guaranteed to make you sicker, and the looming guarantee of death if the treatment doesn’t work.
With the virus, it eventually goes away on its own in almost everyone it infects. You know that there is an end in sight, that in a few days or a few weeks you’ll be better. You’re practically guaranteed to live, especially if you’re young.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is often called a “young person’s disease” because of the age group it commonly afflicts. It likes to kill kids. While it’s one of the more treatable of cancers, that does not in any way mean it isn’t incredibly sickening, and completely fatal–if you ignore your HL you will die. There is no infection cycle, it is progressive. A virus runs its course, and you can justifiably hope for a full recovery.
Cancer doesn’t give a crap if you want an end in sight or how hopeful you are. You can’t look forward to it “passing” on its own like C19 does in most people. You basically have to suffer the treatment, and hope you somehow survive the long fight ahead.
Your life is absolutely on the line.
Those who’ve gone through months, or even years of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, immunotherapy, and all the drugs and pills and side effects that come with all of it, have survived something.
True survivors are those who’ve suffered for sometimes years, who’ve lost all of their body hair, lost half their body weight, who’ve been weakened so badly a wheelchair is their only option. Who are so frail even visiting the bathroom is too exhausting, and eating a sandwich is an effort akin to running a marathon.
Those for whom constant, excruciating pain barely dulled by powerful opioids is every day of their lives. Those who literally fight for their lives every moment of every day, in a fight where the natural course of their disease always ends in death.
It’s a fight that no virus patient could ever relate to. They do not have such a seemingly insurmountable challenge ahead of them as cancer. They have a mere flight of stairs to ascend, and a landing at the top to look forward to.
The fight to survive cancer is akin to climbing a mountain every single time you get a chemo infusion. Many who try don’t make it, and many who survive chemo end up dying anyway.
It’s the single hardest, most terrifying, seemingly impossible fight for a person’s life they’ll ever face.
So for a cancer survivor, who has faced certain death and fought it victoriously, who made it to the finish and didn’t die on the way, who still has the surgery scars and the lifelong damage chemo causes, who now has a higher risk of new or returning cancers, as well as a lifespan shortened by several decades– those who’ve had corona calling themselves “survivors” is deeply offensive.