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Survivor is such an AMAZING word, when you really think of it. It’s a person who survives something. Usually something heart wrenching, impossible, devastating, difficult, or crippling. Something that has the possibility of not allowing you to survive. Even when we say something as nonchalant and obvious as, “Well, I’ve survived the day” it usually means it was a pretty tough day. I didn’t “survive” my wedding, I enjoyed it. I did survive the day I drove up to New York, and wound up on the Jersey Turnpike at night. In the pouring rain, with a screaming infant in the back, while navigating through traffic and roadwork. I hated it, (because seriously!?) but I survived it.
Even though I survived it, I wouldn’t label myself a survivor. (Kinda sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? “Survivor of the 2014 rainstorm/roadwork fiasco”…. ridiculous.) A survivor is someone who got through something life changing or life threatening. Cancer survivor, domestic violence survivor, heart attack survivor. In this sense, it can really mean “someone who lived”
I’m kind of done with it though. Especially for Cancer, or domestic violence. Or, NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) which my daughter had. Or anything that involves a fight. I want to stop using the word survivor, I want it to stop being the most important word to describe these fighters. Survivor, yes, but more importantly, warrior.
I was thinking while I was in the shower this morning, (the quietest time of my day, where I get the biggest ideas and the best inspiration) and as thoughts tend to do, I started on one thing, then bounced around for awhile. I got to a moment, thinking about my daughter, when I practically ached to yell “She didn’t just survive! She fought! She is a warrior, and she survived because of that.”
Of course, my brain didn’t stop there. Domestic violence survivors? Warriors. That is not an easy thing to get through, and especially not easy to get away from. If someone got out and survived, they fought to get out. Emotionally, mentally, sometimes even physically. They didn’t just survive. They are warriors.
Cancer survivors? Warriors. Like, seriously. Treatments, surgeries, recurrence, and sometimes repeat…. warriors.
What about Non-Survivors?
Now, I know from personal experience, that just because someone did not survive, doesn’t mean they didn’t fight. Some of the fiercest cancer warriors I’ve known did not survive. In fact, three of my grandparents were taken by cancer. I wasn’t alive yet when my grandfather passed, but I saw two of my grandmothers fight (I am lucky enough to have had three wonderful women to call grandma). I know the heart and strength they had going into the fight, and the amazing support from my grandfathers behind them. So yes, I know the label warrior is not limited to survivors.
So, maybe that’s where the distinction needs to come in. “Surviving warrior” has a nice ring to it, in my opinion. To me, “Survior” doesn’t hold a candle to it.
My daughter is a surviving NEC warrior. Not just a survivor. She didn’t just make it through somehow. She fought. I saw it in her little 2lb body every single damn day. She was fighting.
Why are you even writing about this?
I don’t know, except my heart told me to. My heart said, tell everyone to yell and be proud of the fight they fought. Don’t settle for being labeled survivor, as if you just somehow made it through. You got yourself through.
You are a surviving cancer warrior.
You are a surviving domestic violence warrior.
You are a surviving NEC warrior.
You are a surviving depression warrior.
You are a surviving heart disease warrior.
You fought. You fight. Tell people and feel proud of your amazing strength, because you are amazing. And you are more than just a survivor.
Thoughts? Musings of your own? I’d love to hear them! Drop a comment down below!