Survivor or Thriver?

Do you like being referred to as a ‘survivor’? Is there another term you prefer?  When did you decide you deserved the title?

Definition of ‘survive’:  To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere: families that were surviving in tents after the flood.

After reading this definition, ‘survivor’ isn’t empowering, but simply a state of being.  For some, that is all living beyond cancer is.  For others, living beyond cancer becomes an opportunity for learning gratitude, courage, team work, communication….oh and so much more!  Many ‘survivors’ claim their life has more meaning, more depth, greater love than ever before.

I like to call myself a ‘Sur-Thriver.’

Definition of ‘thrive’:  To grow vigorously; flourish:

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes coined the Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  Trisha Torrey, a patient advocate, coined a sixth stage, Proactive Survivorship.

A proactive survivor:

  • Overcomes grief and blame.
  • Decides how the tragedy will affect him/her
  • Improves the quality of their own life and others’ lives.
  • Tells their story, not a victim’s feel-sorry-for-me story, but a tragedy-turned-triumph story showing strength to move beyond and giving hope to others.
  • Rejoices instead of blames; inspiring others by example.

If you are a ‘survivor’, how do you perceive yourself?

By | 2016-10-14T15:18:20+00:00 July 29th, 2012|Making Life Meaningful, Storytelling, Survivorship|2 Comments

About the Author:

Eva Grayzel, a nationally recognized Master Storyteller and performance artist, was diagnosed at age 33 with stage IV oral cancer and given a 15% chance of survival. After regaining her deep vibrant voice, Eva applied her stage skills to communicate the depth of her experience in a unique and powerful way. For over a decade, Eva has captivated dental professionals worldwide using her story as a catalyst for change. She performed ‘Tongue-Tied’ Off-Broadway in New York City to a sold-out audience. A champion for early detection, Eva founded the Six-Step Screening™ oral cancer awareness campaign, for which she was recognized by the American Academy of Oral Medicine. She is the author of ‘Mr. C Plays Hide & Seek’ and ‘Mr. C the Globetrotter.’ In 2017, she created ‘My Story Legacy,’ a creative format to document family stories, life values and wisdom for future generations.


  1. Melissa Cohavi July 29, 2012 at 9:35 am - Reply


    Thank you for this. I am definitely a Sur-Thriver like you. I never liked the term, survivor, and I didn’t know why until now. So thank you again for all that you do.


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