A phoenix rising: Who considers herself a "survivor" after a diagnosis of breast cancer?

Christina H. Jagielski, Sarah T. Hawley, Kimberly Corbin, Marisa C. Weiss, Jennifer J. Griggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate factors associated with patients' identification of themselves as survivors after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Methods: A self-administered survey was deployed through the nonprofit organization http://Breastcancer. org. As part of a larger study, we collected data on treatment, mental health, perceived prognosis, concerns about recurrence, and the question, "Do you consider yourself a survivor of breast cancer?"Results: Of the 629 survey respondents, 492 (78 %) considered themselves survivors of breast cancer. Factors independently associated with an affirmative response were (1) believing that one's prognosis was "very good" compared to others (p = < 0. 001), (2) recalling being told that treatment was curative (p = 0. 04), (3) having better mental health (p = 0. 002), and (4) having received chemotherapy (p = 0. 01). Conclusions and implications for cancer survivors: The disparate factors associated with the identification of oneself as a survivor-both the perception of having a very good prognosis and having received chemotherapy (reflecting high-risk disease rather than a good prognosis)-are intriguing. Clinicians caring for women with breast cancer should be sensitive to the fact that not everyone considers herself a survivor. Addressing transitions at the end of treatment and during the follow-up period may be challenging for clinicians and patients alike. Awareness of the complexities of survivor identification may help clinicians in counseling their patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-457
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Breast cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ
  • Recurrence
  • Survivor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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