Being #worldcancerday, I thought I would post a little something today. Cancer is not a nice word. It evokes fear, and sadness, and bad memories.
Let’s talk about some basics first: Cancer can be generally defined as the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in some part of the body. There is approximately 30-40% risk of developing cancer in ones lifetime. No two instances of cancer are the same. Cancers grow at different rates, and respond to different treatments.
But generally speaking, Cancer just sucks.
The discussion of cancer also brings up, what for me is a somewhat controversial word; Warrior. I have argued against the use of this word a couple of times in the past, so below will be a repost from March of 2014
The use of the words “Warrior” or “fighter” in reference to Cancer patients baffles me. There are two implications with these words that bother me most.
First is the implication that this is a “battle” with an opponent who fights fairly. This is not true. Cancer does NOT follow any particular regulations. It does not conform to accepted rules of engagement. Cancer is mean. Cancer plays dirty. Cancer is not a fair “fight”. Frankly, Cancer is a jerk. Cancer is the bully on the playground, who is twice your size, steals your lunch money, and pushes you in the dirt. Cancer is an invisible thief who breaks into your life and steals your energy, your health, your peace of mind. But to me, Cancer is not a “battle”.
Second is the implication that those who “lose the battle” against their cancer did not fight hard enough. This is also not true. The best I can hope for is to try to be an active participant in my treatment and situation. My personal motto, as I’m sure some of you are aware, is to “Be assertive”. This, in my opinion, is the way to approach your cancer.
I am sure that there are those who disagree with this. That for some, approaching Cancer as a battle to be won is comforting and reassuring. That is absolutely fine. If that approach helps you to become an active participant in your treatment, then that is what matters. What I think we can agree on though; is that Cancer is cruel. It can hurt every aspect of your life. But it is a situation in your life from which you can learn. From which you can grow. From which you can draw strength. Some of my biggest life lessons have come from Cancer. I learned a lot about myself through my experiences, and it has truly made me who I am today. But I am not a warrior. My situation is not a battle. It is my life. I am myself; a patient, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend. And I am me.
As always, you are your own best advocate. Be assertive, be persistent. If you do not take care of yourself, who will?
3 thoughts on “World Cancer Day”
Well said Lina. Thank you for your words. I too do not relate to the use of “battling” and “fighting” cancer. I was diagnosed with ET a year ago, aged 44, and have found your blog very inspiring, informative and amusing.
Welcome, Rebekah! I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying my blog. 🙂 How are you doing? Are you on treatment of any kind for your ET at the moment?
Hope you are well,
Hi Lina. Yes…I started Hydroxyurea 7 months ago after a bone biopsy to verify diagnosis and my platelets have decreased from a high of 1.1 million to 500,000. A couple of months ago my dose was tapered given the good result, but the platelets have recently climbed to 700,000… My Hematologist believes that my having a bad flu over the past month may have caused the elevation. It seems to be trial and error with determining dosage. Patience and time!