The Battle Against Cancer- Who’s in the Ring?

The treatment update and death of Senator John McCain hit me very hard. I have a lot of respect for him as a leader, as a person, and as another brain cancer patient. Being well-known, his brain cancer and death brought up a lot of articles, comments, and conversations, one of which is the “battle against cancer” concept.

I actually talked about it in my very first post! I selected it because it was the first thing I wanted to “get off my chest,” and felt needed to be heard. However, because it was my very first post and I started off with more private settings, not many people saw it. With the surge of articles, comments, and other communication from McCain’s death, I’m going to share it again in its original form below. I do not know what his opinion was on this matter and want to be clear that I’m speaking for myself.

THE CANCER BATTLE- PERSPECTIVE IN ACTION

(posted 5/8/18- in original form)

Today is National Brain Tumor Society Action Day.  It also happens to be my first time choosing to speak up about my own experience with brain cancer.  This post will contain an action I’d like to see happen formed by my personal perspective.

I’d like you to think about this: what does it mean to battle cancer, and who is the main character in your definition?  I often hear people say things like, “my mom’s battling cancer,” or, “he lost his battle with cancer (or succumbed to cancer),” or, “she’s beaten cancer, I knew she could do it!”.  How is this different than having cancer, dying of cancer, being in remission, or being cancer-free?  It’s not exactly who the subject is, but it is who one thinks has absolute control over cancer, who one calls the winner or the loser, who one decides either did their job or didn’t.  It’s putting the patient in the hot seat in addition to everything else they’re dealing with.  It’s saying, when you die (unless you’re hit by a car or something) you’ll be a loser because you happened to have cancer.  Keep in mind, everyone is going to die, so some of this labeling can be highly toxic in a very difficult time.  By calling cancer a battle and scoring wins and losses for people who have or had cancer takes a lot of value out of the way their life is viewed, their worth, and their accomplishments.  Doing this IS like cancer in a lot of ways.

Another thing to consider in the “battle against cancer” is, are cancer patients specifically selected?  I mean does cancer mainly attract one gender, one race, one nation, one really anything…anyone?  Um, no.  And more specifically, are people with cancer trained, college-educated in some cancer-specific area?  Well, some of them, but for the most part no more than societal averages.  I mean cancer is pretty “even?”.  So some people know a lot about it and some know very little.  So why does it seem fair to put “the battle” on the patients anyway?

Before I go farther, I want to acknowledge that the people who say things like this actually love and care about the people they’re talking about.  That’s why I’m writing about this.  I know they care!  That’s why I’m taking my time, offering my perspective, and risking putting myself on the spot.  It’s because I know people with cancer have friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc who care, yet might be actually bringing more pain and pressure.  I bring this up because I want to help.  I don’t want to criticize, but I do want to initiate change.  I want you to to see that a cancer-patient is going through something very hard, but please don’t call it a battle! That sounds like it’s coming from a judge, not a friend, not a loved one.  Think of supportive, non-judgemental things you can say.  Maybe I’ll address this specifically in a future blog, but I’m just throwing it out there for now.

You might be thinking that I don’t think cancer itself is a battle.  You might be thinking I don’t think cancer itself has a score or a win-lose ratio.  Actually, I do.  The difference of my perspective verses what I said above is, who’s actually in the main battle?  Although there ARE actions patients can do to effect their cancer positively or negatively, I don’t see the patient as being in a “fight or battle,” but instead in treatment.  Then who actually is or should be in a fight or battle with cancer?  My opinion is the professionals who choose to make a career and/or business out of it.  These would be people and businesses in cancer-related fields of research, health insurance, medical professionals, prescription drug companies, medical equipment, etc.  These are the people and companies who stepped into the ring knowing who their opponent was.  Many of these people and companies try their best and work very hard to battle cancer (some not so much- and again, maybe I’ll address this later).  I encourage professionals and companies doing their best to fight hard!  I want them to know That I’m grateful that their knowledge and expertise are going toward amazing victories of peoples’ lives!  I encourage them not to give up after setbacks!  I desparately want them to win this battle.

But let’s all consider who is in the ring and what the victory is.  If you’re angry at cancer, that’s great!  Just know who’s in the ring.  Who needs your support (and some criticism)?  In my opinion, the businesses and professionals.  If  you want to show your love and support to someone who actuallly has cancer, consider not making their treatment, their experience, and their life a personal win or loss.  Consider your motive being a support, like what’s in your heart, instead of a battle you should put in it’s place.

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I’m interested in the history of Mc Cain’s life, but I’m more of a reader than a blogger in that area. If you’ve written a blog or article about him, Feel free to link it in the comments so I can read it!

2 thoughts on “The Battle Against Cancer- Who’s in the Ring?

  1. The news hit home for me too. A reality dose. I’m curious after reading your first post included in this one, what are you doing personally to slow down the cancer, or is that something you choose not to do? Sometimes I just think, I’m going to live quality over quantity and suck down this DQ Blizzard like it’s the last day on earth. Other times, I think I’d like to see my nephew grow up and there’s new research coming out about how to adopt a lifestyle, like what’s in “Radical Remissions” by Dr. Turner. What are your thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I preapologize for being long winded. Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say without some background. Thanks in advance for your patience!
      I have a memory of a talk with God before going into surgery. I’d like to say I was so religious, so dedicated, so trusting, etc- but that’s BS. I was desperate and in what felt like my last chance, my best option, so I took a deep breath, a leap of faith and a blind trust and surrendered to what I felt I couldn’t control. From then on in the medical and scientific areas I feel like I’m in good hands- I make my selections, show up, and take my medicine. I’m in control of those areas only in that I can chose someone/where else if I ever feel I need to, but I don’t micromanage or do a lot of research (and that’s a is a huge change for me). I take charge more directly in areas I have more knowledge, intuition, and control over. Almost instantly after surgery it hit me to get the F out of bad weather. Before I even knew what my limits were- the chart was still at the foot of my bed- I knew I was moving to better weather whatever it would take. I firmly believe I wouldn’t be anywhere near as healthy and most likely not even alive if I’d stayed. That’s where my biggest actions came into play. I select my own environment, I limit my stress, I select the company I keep, I try to balance having a normal life with living some dreams (DQ Blizzard? 😋). Stress is the biggest problem for me and I believe it is more likely to bring back cancer than any other factor I can control or manage. I exercise regularly and eat a healthy but not extreme diet, but that’s almost always been normal for me. I do have some foods I feel are helping me specifically with cancer- not because of research really but more of a craving or attraction. Most of the time it’s jalapeños but I hit waves of kale, spinach, bananas, and certain nuts too. I realize these could be from possible vitamin deficiencies but don’t think it’s going to kill me to eat too much of any of those so I just go with it. I’m open to new diets, but am concerned with the stress it would bring on with my family so am a bit hesitant.
      If I were to give advice to another BC patient, I would say to take a deep breath, try to come to peace with whatever is coming your way (including death-I had to too), and proceed with the introspections that come your way. I seriously think they’re unique to each of us. There is a faith element and an empowerment/ take-charge element. Listen to yourself and you can learn-know-accept what you can change from what you can’t. That doesn’t mean it’s so fucking comfortable to face life and death, just that your choices and actions have a certain level that they do control, but others need to be accepted and let go of. The letting go part allows your choices to thrive. All in all, this shit isn’t easy, but that’s why we’re fucking rockstars. 😊.
      I haven’t read Radical Remissions but will check it out- thank you! I also think we will continue to grow and take on new ideas during our journey so things that don’t exist now might later.

      Like

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