The Cancer Tag, And Why I Hate It


I do not think of myself as the girl who had cancer, or the girl who survived. I am more than that.

I love meeting new people, but now it’s something that causes me a great deal of stress as well. Because now I do not meet someone new as Karishma. I meet them as a cancer survivor. I am always thinking about when the correct time would be to tell someone that I had cancer?

Is it when I meet them? Is it really that important?

After a few weeks? But why? I am more than someone who had cancer.

After a year of knowing them? Why? Clearly, it does not affect our friendship dynamic.

But then comes the time when they do find out. I hate the term “finding out” as it implies I am hiding my diagnosis when in reality, I am just trying to move on, make cancer a chapter of my life, and not the entire book. So then why does my disease need to be found out? I am not hiding it. I would have talked about it if I felt the need, or if such a situation arose. It’s a part of my past. I don’t see everyone going around declaring their past. People don’t say, “Hi, I am X and let me tell you about my past.” So why is talking about mine so important?

I do not think of myself as the girl who had cancer, or the girl who survived. I am more than that. I may be the crazy girl, or the confused girl, or the girl trying to find herself out. I may be the introverted girl, or the extroverted girl, although to be honest, I am a bit of both. You could label me as a woman, a girl, a grown-up child, an Indian, a designer. There are so many more tags that can be given to me. Why does a cancer fighter, a hero, or a cancer survivor need to be one of them?

If a person had any other disease, maybe let’s say tuberculosis, they would not be called a tuberculosis survivor all their life, would they? Or if God forbid, someone’s mother passed away, they would not be introduced as “this is so and so, and she does not have a mother.”

Then why am I introduced as “Karishma, she had cancer”? Why, when somebody enquires about me in a social setting, my friends feel it is important to add the tag? Why did getting diagnosed at 23 suddenly become a hot topic that spread as fast as some sort of celebrity gossip? Yes, I had cancer, I fought it, it was tough, it made ME tough, but now it’s over, and I am trying to move on. How is reminding me about it helping me move on? Nobody introduces their other friends as: “this is so and so, she had a breakup.” A person going through a breakup is given the space to move on, so why not me?

Shouldn’t it be my choice to choose to talk about it or not? Why is it that if I do not introduce myself as “Karishma, the cancer survivor,” I am labeled as if I am hiding something? Why can I not be Karishma, a product of my past experiences and future expectations?

Why am I a hero, when all I did was survive? Isn’t survival a basal human instinct?

I recently started a blog called “Isurvived” with the hopes of healing and maybe helping another lost 20 something-year-old cancer survivor in moving on with their life. I am writing about my journey to figure out how to live. The fight is over, and I am now a survivor, but nobody told me what would come after. This is me adjusting my sails because life is not just about surviving, but about thriving.


ABOUT Karishma


  • India
  • Diagnosis

    • Breast Cancer

    Primary Treatment

    • Chemotherapy

    Primary Cancer Center

    • Other


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