Cancer ‘Fight’ Metaphor, To Continue or End?
Is it time to put the cancer ‘fight’ metaphor to rest once and for all? Patient advocates and genetic counselors share their insight.
— Ellen T. Matloff (@MyGeneCounsel) May 16, 2018
Thoughts from patient advocates and genetic counselors…
As a “younger” person (dx @31) w/lymphoma (7+years) the battle and fight terminology is exhausting. It implies you aren’t ‘fighting hard enough’ if you haven’t ‘won’ yet-which after 7 years it sure feels like I may never win. But I’ve learned to adapt.
— Tara Jo (@TJSchmidlen) May 16, 2018
When writing my medical memoir "Summer's Complaint," my family discussed this very topic and decided we were OK with "struggle." To us it's about building resiliency and facing "what might come next" with courage and compassion living as a cancer previvor/survivor.
— Laura Kieger (@lkiegerauthor) May 16, 2018
Perhaps it’s a personal choice, but if it’s a “fight” it is not a fair one. We have very little choice, besides enduring with the most grit and grace that we can bring. Sometimes it feels like a slog. It requires endurance, patience, attention & compassion of ourselves and others
— Julie M (@exurbanmermaid) May 17, 2018
— h e a t h e r z 🇺🇸⏳| #PTEN (@ZHeatherChamp) May 23, 2018
Long overdue. Eliminate battlefield words to describe #breastcancer
— BCsurgerystories (@BCsurgstories) May 17, 2018
— Christina Lizaso (@btrfly12) May 30, 2018
To me it was/is a “journey”. There are fights, victories & losses, and a process of rediscovery. Through it all I learned a great deal about myself. BRCA is part of me & the journey continues.
— Strongmom (@fun2kidsmom) May 16, 2018
I've always said that I am on an Expedition through cancer. I feel as though there are wonderous discoveries to learn about my disease-and about myself every day.
— Khevin Barnes (@Cancer_Speaker) May 31, 2018
When the conversation becomes "she lost her fight", this metaphor falls apart for me. Cancer can't be seen as the winner.
— Proactive Genes (@ProactiveGenes) May 16, 2018
Avoiding "beat" or "defeat" language is especially important with #ovariancancer and others where recurrence is likely. Women say recurrence can be more shattering than the first diagnosis. If everyone has said "You beat it!" that sense of failure could be even worse. #gyncsm
— SPBOC Foundation (@SPBOCF) May 29, 2018
I know a lot of genetic counselors use “journey” or “story”. Thoughts on these?
— Maija Rannikko (@_mai_ran) May 29, 2018
We avoid "journey" only because it is overused to the point of feeling clichéd, but it's apt. One #ovariancancer survivor commented on Facebook that she referred to cancer as weeds and herself as a master gardener. I'd love to hear what other, more colorful metaphors people use.
— SPBOC Foundation (@SPBOCF) May 30, 2018
Not sure if it comes from or pre-dates the “War on Cancer” /National Cancer Act? Used in this way, it doesn’t have the same connotation of an individual fighting/winning/losing and was just a (overly bellicose for my taste) way of saying cancer research would become a priority.
— Eleanor Griffith (@elo81) May 17, 2018
Many clients and families embrace “to fight” and also “to lose”. My personal take with a treasured loved one: watching a person who didn’t want to give up ever was a daily battle. We don’t necessarily have to embrace that “to fight” has a direct opposite do we?
— Robin Schwartz (@RobinSchwartz15) May 24, 2018
This is tough! I personally don’t like the cancer “fight” metaphor and know how hurtful some find it. I also have patients who really appreciate and are motivated by it. Go with it but don’t initiate? #copout pic.twitter.com/iekjXf7LW1
— Meg Farmer (@MegFarmerCGCMBA) May 16, 2018
I hear it used most commonly entering a diagnosis or treatment phase and know that some draw strength from it. The sense of control it implies is, of course, inaccurate and many dislike the term. #Advocates are there ones you prefer?
— Danielle Bonadies (@dcBonadies) May 17, 2018
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