So You are a Survivor

May 27, 2014 Providence Regional Cancer Partnership

Providence Cancer Survivorship Blog Guest BloggerBy Mary Kay Jurovcik, guest blogger

Have you gotten used to your new title yet?

They tell us the definition of cancer survivor is “anyone diagnosed with cancer – from the moment of diagnosis until the end of life.”

But for me, I felt like I transitioned from cancer patient to cancer survivor when I finished active treatment. It felt like a strange promotion. Here you are, in your brand new job, but no one gave you a job description. You’ve earned the big desk, the corner office. So what do you do now?

The happy-sad-sandwich of survivorship is that there is no employee handbook.

During treatment, we are like line workers. We follow the directions our bosses give us because our only job is to get well. Come in for this appointment at this time. Put your things in this locker. Wear this gown, open in front. We don’t have to be creative; we don’t have to make plans. We show up, do our tasks and go home.

Post-treatment survivorship is different. With this new title comes new responsibility, but much less direction. You are the manager now, and you’ve earned this promotion with your hard work.

The top of the job description should only have one word. Want to know what it is?


Everything else is “Other duties as assigned.” And you know the best part? You assign the duties.

Your job is to live now, however you define that. Your job of living might mean to run marathons or learn a new language. It might mean spend time with your kids or bake the perfect loaf of bread. It might mean start a new business. It might just mean get more cable channels. You decide what it means. You decide what to put in the manual.

As you write your own job description, remember the fight that got you here. Remember all the work it was to be a patient. Think about all you’ve added to your life’s resume.

Congratulations on your new title. Best wishes for future you have earned. The world can’t wait to see what you make of this position.

Cancer survivor Mary Kay Jurovcik

Mary Kay Jurovcik is a wife, mother, writer and cancer survivor. At the age of 33, she was diagnosed with stage 2B, HER2+ breast cancer. With no family history or prior experience with cancer, Mary Kay took to documenting her journey through treatment, both for catharsis and communication. She is currently working on turning her online journal, sticky notes and bar napkins into a book with the hope to help others facing similar and dissimilar adventures.

Mary Kay lives in Lake Stevens, Washington, with her husband, two young daughters and an old Rat Terrier named Squints.

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