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Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Language of Cancer

I am sceptical about the language people use to talk of cancer. "Fight" , "war" , "survivor"  makes it sound as if people who die of cancer have somehow failed. They did not "fight" enough, or win the "war". It suggests that they lacked the courage to stay the course and "survive".

There are a few too many people with cancer in my mother's family; many of whom did not "survive". All of them were unique and wonderful in their own way. They did not lack "courage" or just lay down and choose to die.

Many years ago, I read some where, that there are no "winners in a war: all are losers." ( Some one forgot to memo Bush, Obama and all the crazy fanatics out there!) Perhaps, we should consider rethinking the language we use for cancer. Stop thinking in terms of "winning" and "losing".

I know cancer feels like a battle with the endless surgeries, treatments, tests, and doctor visits but the people who die from it, have already lost it all. Why further indignify their struggle by implying that they were "losers"? Their loved ones have enough to struggle with without the nagging doubt that perhaps, if my father/ mother/ brother/ sister/ son/ daughter had only " fought" harder.

Cancer brings so much anguish for both the family and the person diagnosed; there is no need to add more pressure by insisting that one must be a brave soldier and try to "win".

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