• Kate

Why are certain words synonymous with cancer?

I read an interesting article a while back, sorry I can't remember where I saw it and can't seem to find it now- damn chemo brain, but basically it was a discussion of the words which are commonly used to describe someone who is diagnosed with cancer and what that could say about the person and society. Examples of words used to describe someone diagnosed with cancer are "strong," "fighter," "brave," "survivor," etc. I am not for or against these words personally, but I thought it was interesting that these words are ONLY used to describe those with cancer. Why is that?! Someone is diagnosed with another chronic and life threatening disease such as diabetes or heart disease, but they are not described the same way even though some cancers are curable and temporary while these other diseases are not.

The other interesting bit is that these words implicate that there is a choice a cancer patient goes through, when in my experience there really isn't a choice. It is either, you refuse treatment and likely die or you go through the treatment that is backed by research and recommended by your expert medical team. I feel treatment was the only smart and right path for me and those I love, it wasn't a choice. I know I am a strong, independent woman, but I was that before all this. And if I'm completely honest, some days I am pretty weak, and don't feel brave at all! I am just taking it day by day and putting my life in the hands of medicine with the hopes of keeping the mutated cells within my body from killing me.

I am learning that cancer is an individual journey, and is different for everyone, even those with the same diagnosis and going through the same treatments. Seeing individuals at the infusion center going through what they are going through makes me grateful for what I have and how things have been going for me so far. Everyone has different amounts of support and feels differently about the words used to describe them. I do not feel strongly either way about words at this point, but I am definitely aware of both sides, and will make a point to ask people in the future what words they would like me to use because I am now aware that this discussion exists. No need to sensor yourselves when describing me, I appreciate any and all words of encouragement ;)

I am not trying to start a debate, but I do think it is worth looking at both sides of this issue and being sensitive to they way people feel as they go through this incredibly difficult journey. Here's an interesting opinion piece I found while trying to find the original article I read. If I find the original, I will amend this post to include it.

4/12 Taxol infusions completed yesterday (5/29)!


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