Monday, March 24, 2014
I've recently received my "five year all clear" mammogram: and my goodness I'm grateful.
I know this means that my chances of recurrence statistically have dropped quite significantly.
But although I'm grateful, I don't take credit for the five year all clear. Sure, I've done all I can to stay lean because excess weight is associated with recurrence of estrogen-related cancers. However, it's not the case that "having a good attitude" or battling fiercely" or sheer exertion of will power are successful in staving off cancer.
My mother died of cancer after "battling fiercely". That wasn't her fault. It wasn't her failure.
When I had cancer, it made me angry to be told that I could fight this thing, and that if I just had the proper attitude cancer would not come back. (Which meant: if cancer recurred that would be a clear signal I hadn't had the right attitude and hadn't fought hard enough. And was mostly reassuring to those people who did not have cancer and could somehow credit themselves for that fortunate state of affairs. They must have the "right attitude". Right?)
Lots of us here at Spark People have had cancer. Quite a number have died. It wasn't their fault. More of us will be diagnosed with cancer. We'll offer all possible support, I'm sure. But some will die. And it won't be their fault.
Monday through Friday my Globe and Mail publishes a daily "Facts and Arguments" essay submitted by a reader. Today's was on just this topic of "battling cancer", and one of the best explanations I've read with respect to the limitations of that analogy.
I'm sure many of you will wish to celebrate with me my five year all clear. And: may I suggest and request that one of the best celebratory gestures would be to drop this language of "battling" and "victory" which implicitly "blames the victim" when the battle is lost?
Thanks. And yes: I'm so grateful for the support I've received and for my five year all clear!!