or "wacky words" Show this Post
before getting down to any meaningful sharing of my own experience with prostate cancer, we need to settle on some terminology – most, if not all of it related to cancer in general.
analogies are rarely perfect and in many cases, they're downright misleading or silly, BUT in this "game" everyone is entitled to their own opinions – so, I'll share mine – just as long as you understand that that doesn't make them any more valid than someone else's – although I certainly think they are!
to begin with – I detest the term "cancer survivor" and find the phrase "lost his/her battle with cancer" revolting as well as ludicrous. In my ever so humble opinion – cancer is not a battle to lose or survive any more than any other disease… ever hear a diabetic using "war" analogies to describe their disease… how about folks with pneumonia or the flu or even the common cold (although people do die from all of them)?
survivor? really? "surviving" is something that species do (or more often, something they don't do) and it's said to be something that the "fittest" do – but that's a load of crap… 19 yr. old kid, linebacker for his college football team, drug-free, teetotaler, muscles ripped to the max, ran 10K every other day – definitely meeting the criteria of the "fittest", crossing with the light on his way home from the library to meet his 22:00 curfew, hit and killed by a seriously obese, 72-year-old drunk driver with a liver the size of a basketball, blowing thru the intersection against the red. Is that "survival of the fittest"?? or just as believable and more germane to our topic, the kid is diagnosed with stage IV testicular cancer, totally unnoticed and symptom free until it had metastasized to most of his organs including the liver and there is nothing to be done… Again is that "survival of the fittest". Many cancers are very much equal-opportunistic in nature – they don't care about fitness, age, race, gender, world-view or anything else. There are obvious exceptions, brought on by purposeful, accidental or unknown exposure to specific carcinogens, and gender-specific cancers as well as those that tend to be found in younger or older folk… but "fitness" as a factor – not so much!
We don't "survive" cancer or even worse "thrive" cancer – from the latest catch-phrase "to be a cancer thriver". Oh please! We LIVE WITH cancer and/or we DIE FROM cancer, but we don't survive it or thrive it or battle it or conquer it. You can argue that your medical team and the tools at their disposal actually do "battle" your cancer and you might almost sell me on that analogy… I mean the surgeries attempt to excise/defeat the entire base camp, the radiation "kills" or at least "maims" every cell in its path and the chemo cocktails certainly could be categorized as true "killing machines" even if most of the damage is collateral – but… YOU are not doing the battling or waging the war, except in some very passive way – by allowing or giving your consent to the procedures and treatments being used by your doctors. And don't even start mumbling about "positive attitudes" and all the metaphysical garbage being touted by hacks, quacks and everybody with a twisted view of the universe, because they somehow took it personally when someone close to them died after being treated by the mainstream medical profession… believe me (or not) you can't "treat", "beat" or "defeat" a physical disease with psychic mumbo-jumbo. "And which of you by taking thought (or being anxious) can add a single hour to his span of life?" Matt. 6:27
And "thrive" – to borrow a valley girl phrase from the 80's – gag me with a spoon! Really now… we don't thrive on cancer – just the opposite – it thrives on us! If an individual with cancer is able to maintain a positive demeanour and seemingly be unaffected by their disease – it's not because of the cancer, but in spite of it and is almost always due to one or more external influences – their faith, their support system of family and friends, or even the effectiveness of their treatment regime (I'm sure I'd put out a much more positive vibe, if my treatment incorporated copious quantities of medical marijuana 😉
all this ranting to say – if and when I need to refer to this "journey" (another hackneyed term that I dislike), I'll use the simple concept of "living with" cancer and hopefully avoid the common analogies. If I misstep… I trust you'll all immediately call me on it!