A woman looks optimistic as she slightly smiles, looking forward

The Phrase "I'm Fine" From Lung Cancer Patients

In my view, we live in one of two worlds which consists of healthy people or cancer patients. Here, healthy people do not have serious or terminal diseases, and cancer patients have severe and even fatal conditions. When our status changes from health people to lung cancer patients, the transformation is very hard. We don't want this transformation to happen, but it's not our choice. However, some phrases that are used to describe this transformation do not change. And sometimes they cause confusion.

Causal phrases take on new meaning

Recently, I spoke about lung cancer to healthy people who, luckily, don't have lung cancer. I noticed that "How are you? I am fine" is so casual but has a totally different meaning when used by healthy people and lung cancer patients. For example, I answered "I'm fine, thank you", when I do feel fantastic. I often noticed the puzzled face from my friends as if a lung cancer patient is fine? Either I'm full of bu**** or I'm avoiding the very topic. Maybe I don't want to talk about lung cancer.

"I'm not fine" from healthy people's viewpoint

"I'm not fine" according to healthy people's criteria. I have stage 4 lung cancer, which can only be inhibited but not cured at this stage. Even if everything goes well, I still have CT and MRI every three months with massive x-ray, bloodwork, and seeing the oncologist every three months. If things don't go smoothly, I may end up in the hospital or die. Death is no longer a concept of my imagination but a reality. Although I don't always think about cancer myself, the fact of having stage 4 lung cancer remains as mental and physical pressure and challenges. How can I say "I'm fine"?

"I'm fine" from lung cancer patients' viewpoint

"I'm fine" according to a lung cancer patient's viewpoint. No cancer progression and having a stable condition is the best news we can expect as a stage 4 lung cancer patient. So I was happy if I pass the three-months check-up. I always say to myself: another three month vacation. If something does not go as it is supposed to be, we will have doctors and new medications. It's not the end of the world. I always imagined that my cancer-invading body is like cheese bitten by a mouse -- it's full of holes. So as long as we can "catch the mice" to "patch up the holes", I am fine.

We all have different criteria

Life is like a glass half-filled with water. It's up to you to decide how to look at the glass. We are forced to change from the side of healthy people to patients, and we cannot go back for now. Life is not going back. It is important we focus on the future, adapt, and find a new way of living. I feel OK to accept such a reality because indeed I am fine.

The criteria for healthy people and cancer patients are quite different regarding the phrase “I’m fine”. It’s not essential to change the phrase. Anyway, I’m fine.

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