Two young women died of cancer this week. The wonderful Kate Granger and Roger Moore’s daughter Flossie. Of course these are just the women that got press, thousands of others also died of cancer this week only you won’t have heard about them.
The language that’s used when someone dies of cancer is generally the same. “They lost their battle.” “They lost the fight.” Why is this negative loser- language still being used by journalists, by families, by you and me? It’s wrong.
For three years I’ve been a huge advocate of free speech when you have cancer. I’m very much a fan of positive language. Words such as winning and beating are fine. Yes they may upset others like me who still live with the disease, but cancer is not the time to worry about everybody else. It’s a time to be outspoken and selfish.
Being diagnosed with this is stressful enough. Then there’s being cut open, losing bits of your body, the scars, being poisoned and burned, extreme fatigue and add to that a list as long as your arm of post -treatment side effects to deal with. After all of that you’re left with the whole emotional torment for the rest of your life- will it come back or won’t it? It never really goes away you see.
For those that pass away, the cancer did come back and it spread to other organs. Those of us with incurable cancer are the unluckiest of all. We have to face cancer a second or third time and put our bodies through the whole thing all over again. We also have to accept we were going to die, and there’s a whole lot of time to get used to that which is bitter-sweet. Sometimes I think it would be a whole lot kinder if I died instantly and I’m sure I’m not alone thinking that.
Then there’s the terrible guilt. Somehow whilst going through all this, you’re meant to think about others. Your parents, your siblings, your children. They are going through hell too, and you know that when you die you will leave behind a lot of hurt and pain. I try not to think about it, but sometimes it’s all I can think about.
We go through all of the above only to be remembered for “losing the fight against cancer.” It’s strange because none of this sounds like losing to me, does it to you? Nobody can predict whether you live or die at time of diagnosis. There is nothing you can do to determine your fate. We all want to survive, and most of us do everything we can to become one of the lucky ones. We aren’t losers. We didn’t lose anything. We were just unlucky.
If anything battling any life threatening disease but making the best of your life and still managing a smile every day surely means you are winning at life?
Next time someone dies of cancer, please think about your language. Think about everything the person endured. They didn’t go through all of the above to be remembered as a loser. After all, how can anyone lose to something that’s technically impossible to cure?..