I wanted to write something about the language that we use to describe cancer. There have been some high-profile celebrity deaths of breast cancer and some new diagnosis that have hit the press recently. There are so many headlines, “Celebrity becomes latest victim” “Celebrity battles Cancer”.
The press is clearly trying to grab more attention, but I have found that this type of language trickles down to all of us and maybe because it’s so hard for us to know what to say, we fall back on using the same battle language to describe experiences with Cancer.
I think for some people with cancer this can be very helpful, to have it feel like a war they need to fight, to overcome. For others who have lost someone it can become a very painful way to describe loss. If we’re fighting a war on Cancer, or if we are looking at it as a duel, then did my friend not fight hard enough? No, of course not.
I think we could all be a bit more mindful of how we use language to describe experiences, and if you’re struggling to find the words to support your loved one, maybe talk to them about how these types of metaphors make them feel. Start a conversation about it.