Battle, survivor, suffering, brave …
These are a few of the words used about cancer and to describe people with cancer. You may hear these being applied to you if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you’re currently going through treatment.
You may find yourself using them when referring to your own treatment or talking to others.
As far as I was concerned, I was never having a ‘battle’. Maybe a minor skirmish but there were and still are, many people going through real or metaphorical battles, who were in a much worse position and some of them really were being ‘brave’, especially anyone who’s received a secondary diagnosis.
I also heard comments such as “I hear you’ve been ill” – well I hadn’t been ‘ill’ as such – even once diagnosed I was feeling fine. It was the treatment that made me feel ‘ill’.
Having come through the other side, I also don’t like the word ‘survivor’. After the initial diagnosis and shock I never doubted that I would ‘survive’ and having had surgery and treatment it was just a process I had to go through, not something that I necessarily needed to ‘survive’.
Be aware of how you talk about cancer and the words you use. They may be relevant, they may not be what the person wants to hear or how they’d describe it.
If you find it difficult to know what to say – just ask. If you don’t like the words people are using – tell them.