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Cancer Did Not Win: Why Words Matter

Last updated: December 2021

There is something in the cancer world that bothers me, and I would like to address it here. One thing that I have learned is that we have to say goodbye to our friends more often in the cancer community than we did before we entered it.

I was fairly young when I was diagnosed and have made so many friends in the community. I can look at my Facebook friends and over half have come from the lung cancer community. Now I know we all will ultimately run out of time, but it stings just a bit more knowing that the reason someone has passed is due to lung cancer. No matter the age, gender, or any identifying information it still stings.

The thing that bothers me though is when someone says that this person has “lost the battle”.

Breaking down battle terminology

Battle terminology is often used in the lung cancer community and I am guilty of using it. We often say we are “in the fight” or “fighting cancer”. These terms are often used because they describe our situations so well however can be deemed inappropriate because it implies that we are in a win or lose situation. These terms have been around for many years to describe cancer. It does not help that cancer research is based on “the war on cancer”.

Life lost to cancer isn't a lost battle

When I pass away, I hope that no one uses the term, “she lost her battle” because I have been living with this disease and taking every step to further my lifespan. I have had numerous blood sticks, chest CT scans, brain MRIs, I have taken thousands of doses of medications. To me, this is not what leads to a lost battle. I will have used every ounce of my energy to move forward and get just a little bit more out of this life. I hope to hit and surpass my tenth cancer anniversary as well as see my 40th birthday.

When I pass away, it can be said that I lost my life to lung cancer. I would be fine with someone saying she fought until the end because that is exactly what I am doing. I have my next treatments already planned out! I have made myself blue in the face trying to get this out into the world. Please do not say that your loved one, friend, aunt, uncle, or neighbor “lost the battle”.

Our words matter

Words are so very important in the lung cancer community and the cancer community in general. If we continue to use the wrong words to describe cancer and its effects, then it may lead to negative effects on patients and survivors.

I have found myself in this debate with others and I'm not saying that I am correct because everyone has their own opinion on what words to use. I hope that this blog post will show you a different view on the use of battle terms and how it can have a negative effect on us when we say that our loved one has “lost the battle.”

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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