Let’s change the way we talk about cancer

Cancer survivorI want to start a revolution in the way we talk about cancer. Doctors, patients, loved ones/caretakers…we need to stop using words like “terminal” and “cure.”

“Terminal” sets us up for heartache and fearing every tiny little thing that happens. It starts a clock running in our head and the only thing we hear is that damn ticking clock. And then we just live in compete fear. The truth is medicine is 90 percent educated guess. Every body is different, and every body responds to treatments differently. Doctors won’t tell you this, but they are spit-balling when they throw out timelines. And they need to quit it. It only adds another level of fear and worry, and that stress is not in any way going to aid you in your treatment and healing.

The word “cure” is an unreasonable expectation. Because once you’ve had cancer, it’s never “cured.” They may “take it away” through surgeries and chemo/radiation, and you may be in remission, but as a cancer patient you’ll always have to be monitored. You’re always going to feel like you’re trying to outrun the monster.

If you’re in the middle of treatment right now, I’m not trying to be discouraging. Fight your battle!!! Because once you’ve received a cancer diagnosis, you’re now a part of a bigger war. And trust me….YOU ARE A WARRIOR. And you always will be. Some of the toughest people I know (with the best sense of humor) are cancer patients! Just visit any cancer ward and talk with cancer patients. They know…they git it.

Yes, cancer is scary. Any health crisis is indeed a scary thing. And cancer treatments alone can wreck your body. But as cancer patients we have the power to change the conversation. We need to stop treating cancer like a dirty word we whisper because we’re afraid to say it, as if it’s something we’re ashamed of. We don’t need to walk on eggshells.

This is all on my mind right now because yet again….I’m there…. I’m waiting to do more biopsies because on a CT scan my doctor can’t tell if it’s my autoimmune illness active again or if the cancer is back. And I’m putting it out there because, why the hell not?! Talk about it. It is what it is. And I need positive energy and prayers.

I am a warrior, and I will fight each and every battle, cancer or otherwise. But I cannot and will not give into fear. And I don’t want my loved ones and friends to worry….because every day is a gift. So why waste it fearing an outcome that may or may not happen!? This is just another speed bump slowing me down for a moment.

And we ALL have battles to fight, because we’re human – beautifully flawed, gorgeously imperfect. We just need to learn to own it. It’s okay to be not okay sometimes.


4 thoughts on “Let’s change the way we talk about cancer

  1. Your strong warrior woman spirit lifts my heart. I love your closing lines – we all face battles of one sort or another because “we all are human – beautifully flawed, gorgeously imperfect.” Some of us are more gorgeous than others – and that would be you, Dawn. May you win this round as you have won the others. I love what you say about each day being a gift. Today’s gift was these beautiful brave strong impossibly wonderful words from you.

  2. I agree with you about the words used. I have stage IV adenocarcinoma lung cancer and yes, I have be NED/remission for 2 years and because of that so many people think that I have been cured! I will never be cured! I am always watching for signs, bumps, lumps, aches, etc. and then every 6 months have to go for a CT to see if it has returned. I don’t know if it has spread to some other organ or my brain or bones. I thank God for every day that I wake up and for letting me live just a little longer. You are always in my prayers Dawn. Keep up fighting my fellow warrior.

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