How does it feel to the patient?
I submitted the following in response to a conversation on Inspire website, a website for those suffering from rare diseases. Inspire had posted a question about how patients/sufferers view the military language that is always used to talk about cancer ….. battling cancer; won the battle against cancer; lost the battle against cancer etc, etc.
Here is my reflection on this:
Thanks for bringing up this topic. I have just been thinking about it!
I my case the language of battle, of win or loss, is deeply offensive.
I was diagnosed one year ago with CMML, a rare, chronic, and very difficult to treat form of leukaemia, where misshapen cells rather than the proliferation of cells is the main problem. Just few days ago, after a bone marrow biopsy, I was told I would have 6 to 12 months to live if it was untreated. It had progressed aggressively and unnoticed while I was on ‘watch and wait’.
Receiving treatment – azacitidine, a mild form of chemo – will only improve quality of life (if I respond well to it) and may extend my life expectancy by about a year.
If the doctors are correct (they do have science and the benefit of comparison with the few others who have walked my path behind them, but they are not God and so are really making a best guess)…. where does that leave me in “the battle”? Does that mean I am a loser?
I would like to suggest, and I am a journalist and author and deal with words daily, that the vocabulary around cancer be changed.
I personally consider myself a VICTOR! And this for one reason. My image of who I am is not built on how long I live, but HOW I live. If I can go through the upcoming trials with grace and peace, with a generosity of spirit towards others and especially to those who are also suffering, surely I am in a better place than those who have a mindset of “battling the enemy”, while relinquishing their peace of mind.
Funnily enough, the ultimate outcome is the same – we all die sooner or later. If my death is to be sooner, what does that really matter if I do it BETTER?