Monday, June 18, 2012


This image has been appearing as a status update all over Facebook. It really bothers me, and I can't even really articulate why. I think part of me just finds it silly - do we really all think that 97% of our friends won't repost and that only 3% will.?Where do those numbers come from?


The message also implies that if you don't repost, it's because you really don't hate cancer - that you are apathetic or worse. But posting a statement that cancer is bad, is not an act of activism and affects no real change.


In addition, I'm bothered by the statement "all someone battling cancer wants...". Really? You think that's true of every single cancer patient? As an individual person living with cancer I have wanted a new mobile phone and dreamed of fixing up my house. I've also wanted a dog, for my kids to do more around the house, to travel and be able to watch something good on TV on a Friday night. While I've struggled with my health, I have remained a whole person with complex wants, needs and desires. The illness hasn't changed that.


Finally - and I know this doesn't apply to all of us with cancer - but I don't like the "battling" and "war" analogies, especially when we go on to say someone has "lost" or "won" the war. It's not true that only the fighters and the strong survive. And it's certainly not through that those who pass away just didn't fight hard enough.


I know that the people who post this status update have big hearts and are very well intentioned. I don't want to sound mean-spirited or ungrateful. I just want to let you know that this cancer patient would prefer you did something else. Something real. Something more.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You said it!

zoom said...

Oh, I totally agree with you. The sentiment behind the plea might be well-intentioned, but it's just dumb to be urging all your friends to copy and paste something so inane. As for the battle language, it goes against everything I believe in, both as a pacifist and as a woman who has lived with cancer. Particularly since if you accept that people "win the battle" because of some intrinsic quality, then you must also accept that those who "lose the battle" are somehow to blame.

Catherine said...

Bang on - of course, those battling cancer want to get better, but they also want a normal life which involves trips, family-time, pretty clothes, feeling good, bars of dark chocolate (my personal fav.), etc.

It's narrowing to say all we want is recovery. Yes, we want that, but like anyone else, we want many things.

Very good post.

Beth L. Gainer said...

Perfect post! You said it beautifully. People with cancer want so many of the things that people who don't have cancer want. I hate these generalizations people come up with regarding cancer: the tough survive, the weak die, etc. I hate the battle analogies, too. Great minds must think alike because I wrote on a similar topic regarding survivorship: http://bethlgainer.blogspot.com/2012/06/burden-of-survivorship.html

Thandi said...

I'm no cancer survivor but this type of post has always irritated me. Just like those "I like it on the.." ones that go viral at 'that' time of the year. So useless, so pithy, kind of self-righteous and..just plain irritating.And it makes those dealing with cancer sound like hopeless pitiful creatures with no voice.

laurie said...

Yes. You guys get it. I'm so grateful for that.

Suzanne Klein said...

I also hate the win-lose language. As a colleague said at a memorial for my daughter, "She didn't lose her battle, she won her battle to have a life during treatment with her family and her work. The teatment faied, she didn't. And that is the battle you are winning.

S.

Ken Craft said...

Well said, Laurie. I have been missing your clear, cogent writing

live sports said...
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RAD said...

God bless you Lorri.

tahera said...

This is a very emotional post, thank you for sharing your personal experience on breast cancer diagnosis. Keep writing, good job. Glad to come across this post.