Who is a cancer survivor?

“Cancer survivor” means different things to different people, and moving from patient to survivor is different for everyone. Some see themselves as a survivor as soon as they are diagnosed with cancer, others see themselves as a survivor when active treatment stops or when they become free from signs of cancer.

For many people, survivor is a strong and positive term. Others feel guilty for surviving or feel the term implies that they will struggle to cope with cancer in the future. Some people do not like being labelled at all and do not identify as a cancer survivor. Others prefer to look forward to a future that is not focused on their past cancer experience. You may find it difficult to relate to the term survivor. Instead, you may refer to yourself as someone who has had cancer or is living with cancer.

However you feel about the label, you may wonder: what now? Research has shown that getting information about what to expect after treatment can help you prepare for this change.

Here, we use the term survivor to  mean anyone who has finished their active cancer treatment. No matter the words you choose to use, we hope this information will be helpful.

Improvements in diagnosing and treating cancer have led  to an increase in the number of people surviving and living with cancer. There are about 1 million people living in Australia today who have been diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their life.

Listen to a podcast on Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis


This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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