Does Cancer Ever Win?
Yesterday, yet again I read an obituary of friend’s sister who wrote the most commonly used sentence about death caused by cancer, ” she (her sister) finally lost her battle to cancer”.
I have a problem with that sentence, a big problem. This sentence implies that cancer has won. If that were true, her cancer, as an entity, would be alive, thriving and sustaining, but is not!
So if this were to be appraised it as a win or lose situation, at the most it is a draw, a situation where both parties played each other well, matched each other equally and there was no result. A game where both parties ran out of play time, both spent and exhausted. For someone to win, the victor has to be able to live to enjoy the success, to celebrate the battle, to count the loot.
Here no one loses. For those who survive the assault by cancer, they can be perhaps called winners of the moment but those that die at hands of cancer by no means are defeated.
Right from the time of diagnosis to the last breath that a person takes in their morphine induced stupor, the cancer survivor is the winner. Their will to survive trumps the growth of rogue cells at every angle, every corner. Their spirit is mightier than rapidly multiplying DNA. The body fights back with an army of little white blood cells that are jumping out of the bone marrow in throngs. The body’s immune system creates barriers and hurdles to stop the march of belligerent cells that are the traitors from within.
How can anyone say that a survivor was defeated when they have looked at death in the eye and said I am not afraid of you? How can anyone say that a survivor lost when they endured the hardships of the treatments of a dreadful disease? When they submitted and conquered the cut, burn and poison regimen? How can anyone say that a survivor did not emerge victorious when they gave this fight every ounce of their being?
Death is inevitable, we all know that. We all will die someday. For some it will be quick and sudden , for others prolonged and painful. How can a person’s life, that is full of achievement and accomplishments, of love and warmth , of thoughts and affection, of compassion and giving be ever considered a loss? Just because it ended ? Just because the survivor stopped breathing, it’s a lost battle? No, it’s not. The cancer did not live either. It is gone as well , as is its source of replenishment and growth.
So if I die due to the challenges of my disease, please let the obituary read, ” She emerged victorious in her battle with cancer and as of today is no longer alive and neither is her cancer.” Thank You!
I so agree with you, I do dislike that phrase. Every day that I survive is a victory, I will not make cancer an entity, or make it something it is not. It is a bunch of cells gone wrong, treat it , destroy and try to overcome this disease , if it kills me as you say it dies too, there are no winners
Thanks for reading. Strength to you ….xoxo Uzma
Well thought and well-expressed. You have amazing powers of abstraction and description.
Thanks for the insight. It was very illuminating when seen through your perspective.