My name: Jillian Hanson
Where I live: New Jersey
How far out of active treatment?: Five months
I was diagnosed with Stage 2a ER/PR negative, HER2 positive Invasive Ductal Carcinoma when I was 25 years old. I had a unilateral mastectomy, I froze my eggs, had to undergo 16 rounds of chemotherapy, plastic surgery, 25 rounds of radiation and finally Herceptin/ Perjeta infusion treatment since I was HER2 positive.
What does the word 'survivor' or 'survivorship' mean to you?
The word survivor means beating the odds. It means staring cancer or any other disease in the face and not allowing it to take over. Being a survivor means being strong, courageous and resilient; while still showing weakness, fear and vulnerability. survivorship means overcoming the storm because you in fact are the storm!
If you had to describe what survivorship feels like in three words, what would they be?
Fucking shit up.
What's one thing you wished people outside of the cancer community understood about survivorship?
Survivorship does not mean once you win your battle and survive that you are done and can move on. You are a survivor for the rest of your life and have to work on surviving every day.
What are some things that have helped you during this time?
My amazing support system consisting of my family, fiance and friends, marijuana, my puppy, other breasties, and comfort food. Also, my positive attitude and sense of humor has really helped get me through.
Biggest survivorship pet peeve?
When people say "Well at least it’s over and you look great." Thanks! As a survivor we have anxiety everyday about recurrence BUT at least I look good.
What, if anything do you think should be done more in the cancer community in terms of survivorship?
We have unlimited resources for the "during" cancer but there needs to be more for the "after" cancer especially with mental health.
What's your favorite swear word?
Fuck. Come on, it’s a classic.
What's something you haven't said out loud about survivorship that you want to get off your chest?
That although people are "surviving" They may still struggle and that is okay but they should not be expected to be "better" because they beat cancer. Try living with the fact that you had cancer once. That shit is hard to wrap your head around.
What's your theme song?
“We Are The Champions” by Queen.
Consider this a free space to say anything you want about this topic. Word vomit, away. No judgement. I want the realest of the real here.
There seriously needs to be a cancer etiquette class for cancer muggles so they know the dos and don'ts, especially when it comes to things you SHOULD NOT say.