Can­cer sur­vivors dis­pute ‘pre­vivor’s’ place at re­lay

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK -

DEAR ABBY >> This is in re­sponse to “Con­flicted in Cal­i­for­nia” (March 20), whose co-worker walks the “sur­vivors’ lap” in Re­lay for Life events. Her co­worker is what we call a “PRE­vivor,” some­one who took steps to lessen his or her chances of de­vel­op­ing can­cer. For other co­work­ers to be­lit­tle her for walk­ing this lap is just plain mean. As a sur­vivor, I have no prob­lem with a pre­vivor walk­ing the lap. — Diane in New Hamp­shire

DEAR DIANE >> In your let­ter, you made ref­er­ence to “pre­vivors.” This is a term I was un­fa­mil­iar with. Af­ter do­ing some re­search, I found the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion on the site of Fac­ing Our Risk of Can­cer Em­pow­ered (FORCE). It reads:

“Can­cer pre­vivors are in­di­vid­u­als who are sur­vivors of a pre­dis­po­si­tion to can­cer but haven’t had the dis­ease. The group in­cludes peo­ple who carry a hered­i­tary mu­ta­tion, fam­ily his­tory or some other pre­dis­pos­ing fac­tor . ... The term specif­i­cally ap­plies to the por­tion of our com­mu­nity that has its own unique needs and con­cerns sep­a­rate from the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, but dif­fer­ent from those al­ready di­ag­nosed with can­cer.”

Some of the let­ters my of­fice re­ceived were ve­he­mently against “Con­flicted’s” co­worker par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sur­vivors’ lap. Read on for more reader com­ments:

DEAR ABBY >> The co-worker walk­ing the sur­vivor lap is a fraud. I am a two-time can­cer sur­vivor cur­rently go­ing through a round of chemo­ther­apy. I call foul!

She had a ge­netic threat of can­cer, but has not had it. She hasn’t heard those hor­ri­ble words con­firm­ing her worst fears. She hasn’t felt the pain of a chem­i­cal cock­tail shot into her veins, which can only be de­scribed as Drano mixed with na­palm. She hasn’t watched her hair fall out or seen her skin burned and charred from treat­ment. She chose elec­tive surgery based on ge­netic mark­ers.

If she wants to par­tic­i­pate in Re­lay for Life, there is a care­giver lap and other ac­tiv­i­ties she can par­tic­i­pate in to honor her aunt and mother. She may have gone through pain and grief, but she is no sur­vivor. — Sur­vivor in the South

DEAR ABBY >> It’s sad that this has be­come a case of whose can­cer was worse and a judg­ment of who can or should walk the lap. Just let her walk. It doesn’t take away any­thing of value from any­one else. Re­lay for Life is an in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ence in a group en­vi­ron­ment.

I was once in­vited to walk the sur­vivor lap and a “friend” came up and asked me point blank, “Why are YOU here? You only had thy­roid can­cer, not breast can­cer!” I re­sponded that I didn’t re­al­ize can­cer was a con­test, and I walked the lap. — Let it be

DEAR ABBY >> How do I fight feel­ings of jeal­ousy? I don’t want to sulk over what other peo­ple have and I don’t. I just want to live my life be­ing un­af­fected by other peo­ple’s riches, fer­til­ity and hap­pi­ness. Any tips would be ap­pre­ci­ated. — Jeal­ous in Colorado

DEAR JEAL­OUS >> NO­BODY has ev­ery­thing or a life that’s com­pletely prob­lem-free. A way to min­i­mize jeal­ousy would be to be grate­ful for the pos­i­tive things you DO have go­ing for you. Qui­etly list them in your mind be­fore go­ing to sleep at night, and again in the morn­ing be­fore get­ting out of bed. If you do, it will set the tone for your day and help you to keep the green-eyed mon­ster at bay.

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