My sister shared with me a great article in today’s New York Times thats speaks to all the language around dealing with/living with cancer. I concur with everything this PWWAC (person who writes about cancer) says. I don’t want to be a “warrior” and while I want to “survive” cancer, I’d rather not be labeled a survivor – as if I didn’t get voted off the Island. Supposedly, since I have clean margins and they’ve cleared away any “bad” nodes, there’s no evidence that i “HAVE” cancer, so I have, euphemistically, NED (no evidence of disease) And even though I have every intention of living until I’m 100, I don’t get to say I “beat cancer” until I live another five years.
So what words do I choose? If I’m not feeling well, or tired, or having a hard day, I don’t want it to have anything to do with cancer. It’s because “I just started chemotherapy.” When I see people who haven’t heard my news, and ask how I’m doing, I say, “I just started chemotherapy.” I don’t even use the word “chemo” when I can help it, because in some way “chemo” sounds cute. And I can’t wait to change “I just started chemotherapy” to “I’m in the middle of chemotherapy” to “I just finished chemotherapy”. I can’t wait until the word chemotherapy has nothing at all to do with me, or anyone for that matter.
Yes, the words we use are important. I don’t have bad days. I heard someone once say, “The only bad day is the one you miss.”