In the past 12 months, I’ve read about 6 similarly slanted blogs on the subject of cancer metaphors and in particular their use in describing cancer experiences with the words ‘fight’, ‘battle’ and other ‘military’ sounding terms. The authors say that perhaps this is not the best language to use. I just read another yesterday where the author used the term ‘violence’ to describe these type of metaphors. A ridiculous association in my opinion.
Let me put my cards right on the table as I would hate to twist the meaning of words or the inference of any metaphors I might use. I don’t like Cancer – it attacked me, it attacked my family, it attacked others I know, it has killed people I know……. it has killed millions of people and changed many lives. I’m ‘fighting’ Cancer. I’m in a ‘battle’ with Cancer.
Clearly I need help in my fight with Cancer. Fortunately, I have access to ‘reinforcements’ and ‘allies’; and their ‘weapons’. There are many options including surgical strikes with invasive and minimally invasive forays. The use of WMTD (weapons of mass tumour destruction) is authorised if applicable, i. e. I have chemical and nuclear options. Using these ‘weapons’ and deploying them both strategically and tactically, I can put up the best fight possible and by adjusting the disposition of my ‘forces’ when required, I can delay the advance of the enemy, protect my flanks and force it to change its course or retreat.
Not happy with infiltrating your body, Cancer also wants to take advantage of your fragile state by playing with your mind. It does this by creating the illusion of an uncertain future, makes you worry about your family and makes your family and friends worry about you. I’m therefore also deploying psychological warfare to counter this threat.
If it finally gets me, I know I’ll have tried my best and I will go down fighting hoping to be mentioned in despatches. I do not see this as a defeat. I know that others will carry on the ‘fight’ in my absence until Cancer is defeated (and it will be defeated).
One of the arguments used by these ‘trendy’ bloggers and newspaper authors against the use of what they perceive to be ‘military’ or ‘violence’ metaphors, is that people die of Cancer and therefore they are seen to have ‘lost’ their battle or fight. Clearly, it’s sad when anyone dies of any illness. We all die at some point, life eventually kills us. Few people are reported to have lost their fight with life. So why focus this “fight” debate on cancer?
I believe people naturally ‘fight’ in their own way and there are even parts of the human anatomy whose job it is to fight illness and infection without us even realising they are doing it. So whether we like it or not, our bodies are fighting illnesses.
In fact, to ‘fight’ has many contexts and not just the contrived ones used to argue against use of these metaphors. If you check the Oxford/Cambridge dictionaries (the Supreme Headquarters of the English language), you will see that ‘fight’ has numerous meanings including “to struggle to overcome, eliminate or prevent” or “to strive to achieve or do something”. What that means is that some people will use the word fight to describe the ability to get out of bed in the morning, to walk to the local shops, to go to a restaurant for a meal. Fighting to see a doctor who understands their cancer, cancer, fighting for access to the best treatment, fighting when you think someone isn’t listening. I fight cancer by writing a blog. The context is really important.
As for me, I have no intention of ceasing the use of words such as ‘fight’ and ‘battle’ in my war of words with Cancer. In fact, this has stirred me into increasing the tempo of that particular campaign.
Read this post to know why – WHY I FIGHT
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