WOTY candidate: "previvor"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 17 00:17:17 UTC 2007

= a woman who is genetically predisposed to develop breast (or
ovarian) cancer (testing positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic
factor) and chooses to undergo a preventive mastectomy (or

(includes video of "the story of a previvor")

At least that what it refers to in this article, although I imagine
it could extend to a more general class of those who receive genetic
bad news and pre-act on it/

Nexis contains just one pre-listing for "previvor", a similar story
from the St. Petersburg Times from last December 11 about a
BRCA-positive woman who underwent an elective mastectomy and
hysterectomy at 33.  That article describes the coining of the term
by Sue Friedman:

Many women who have had preventive surgery say they're caught
somewhere in between those who have survived cancer and those who
haven't. They've never battled the disease or undergone radiation or
chemotherapy, but they've spent sleepless nights worrying about
cancer and weeks recovering from surgery. Friedman coined the term
"previvors" to describe them.
"I had women saying 'What am I? I need a label,' " Friedman said.
"They said, 'I'm not unaffected. I've removed my breasts and I'm
dealing with menopause at 32. What does that make me?'


P.S.  This strikes me as a viable candidate for WOTY-hood, in that
the increased availability of BRCA and other genetic tests will
doubtless lead to other women opting for previvor-hood as the lesser
of two evils.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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