When people refer to persons who have cancer, the universal language regularly refers to, “battling,” or “beat cancer,” or “lost their battle with cancer.”
When I hear those words of warfare, I immediately envision soldiers, like the ones who are in military combat, as one of my sons was, for many years. I also envision video game characters, like the monsters in “Heroes of Might and Magic,” or the popular game “World of Warcraft.”
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew what my choice of action/remedy would be – to have cancer cut out of me along with the other breast because of the high incidence of various cancers in my maternal and paternal families’ histories. Does having cancer cut out of me mean I “battled” breast cancer?
In my mind, I didn’t battle anything or anyone. I didn’t pick up arms and start shooting or bombing cancer. I placed my body and life into the care of my breast surgeon who did the “battle” against cancer with a scalpel by cutting it out of my body. My only contribution was to follow instructions and heal. I don’t feel like a warrior, I don’t feel like I battled anything.
My disease was caught early. Had it been diagnosed at a later time, I might better understand the verbiage used when people are “battling” cancer, but I still would disagree with the semantics, and here’s why.
As you know, I have been staying with my son and his family, flying to Calgary as soon as I learned the news of his having metastatic pancreatic cancer. I am not at a point of being able to write about this experience other than the experiences which brought me to the topic of this post.
To me, there is a difference between “battling” cancer and “fighting” for life, which is how I see my son living these days. He is living. He is fighting for his life. The doctors and all of their medications and chemo are the ones to whom my son has entrusted his life, they are the ones who will implement the medicinal armaments of scientific studies to “battle” the pancreatic cancer. My son fights to endure the treatments, take his meds, attend all medical appointments, rest, eat and hope – hope that these efforts of his may increase his lifespan with some quality of life moments. What I see, through a mother’s eyes, is my son fighting for life. He is a valiant opponent.
Maybe it is just semantics, maybe through someone else’s eyes, they might not interpret this experience as I have. Maybe it’s just a personal preference. I choose to use the language, “fighting for life.”
Somehow, even in these dark times, it seems more positive to be fighting for something rather than against an evil foe, which I believe all cancers are.