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The Militarization of Cancer

I was watching Grey’s Anatomy with the lady friend the other night (that’s right. And I watch The Bachelor too. It’s called being a good fiance, look it up). Anyways, I was watching Grey’s and you know how they do those weird voice-over things where she like sums up the whole episode with some cheesy monologue about life? Well the one from the other night was about using military terms like “fighting” or “battling” cancer so you can “beat it” and how that’s unfair since you can’t really control the outcome and dying of cancer shouldn’t be akin to losing. And it was an interesting point. I can see how a TV writer who doesn’t have cancer would think that. But let me tell you why they’re wrong from someone who has real cancer, not TV cancer.

I personally think this is some PC-ass nonsense. The whole “you shouldn’t have to ‘beat’ cancer” thing is bullshit. That’s talking like you plan to lose. If I survive my cancer, I’m damn well gonna say I kicked the ever-loving shit out of it cause I’m the biggest badass on the entire goddamn planet of Earth and if you think otherwise then let’s take it outside. And if I die of cancer, well then say whatever the fuck you want to because I’m dead so who gives a shit how you want to describe it. Like what, are you gonna offend my ghost by suggesting that cancer beat me? Guess what? It did. That’s why I’m dead and cancer is still without a cure. So I think saying “you shouldn’t have to ‘beat’ cancer” is unfair because that means that if I win, I can’t say I beat it. I can only say I survived it and that’s not nearly as satisfying.

To the next point, not saying you’re “battling” or “fighting” cancer because it’s not something you can truly control is super disheartening. I understand the thought process: if you’re not getting any better then it’s unfair to say you’re losing the fight since it’s not your fault you’re not getting better. I mean, if your tumors are still growing, you wouldn’t want your oncologist walking in and telling you to try harder right? That would be unfair. But on the flip side, I don’t want my oncologist walking in and saying “there’s nothing you can do so just take these drugs and hope for the best.” I don’t want to pin my life on a wing and prayer, I want to feel like my attitude and perseverance can have a positive effect on my outcome. So I want to call it “battling cancer” because every day is a fucking battle. It is hard for me to get out of bed every morning. It’s hard to go the hospital every week. It’s hard to have people treat me differently. It’s hard to have side effects and anxiety and all the other awful shit that comes with having cancer. Having cancer IS a goddamn battle. And if I couldn’t feel like what I was doing every day was having an effect on whether I live or die, then why would I even put myself through the trouble? My mental health would deteriorate in a heartbeat and I’d wind up hanging myself to make it all easier. I don’t want that. I want to be a winner and a fighter.

So ultimately, I understand why people would think you shouldn’t use militarized terms when referring to cancer treatment. But I also think that takes the hope out of things, and at the end of the day that’s all we have right? Hope? The belief that what we do everyday makes a difference and that if we keep it up then one day we might just be able to say “I beat cancer.” So get the hell outta here Grey’s Anatomy. And honestly, your show is ridiculous anyways. Everyone on there is either an alcoholic or a drug addict or something. Half the cast survived a goddamn plane crash apparently. The show’s a damn soap opera.

 

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