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How do you describe cancer?

Paul Edwards

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There’s been an interesting discussion going on an American forum following this post by Chuck Maack:

"The Battle with Prostate Cancer: My Opinion

Dealing with cancer is like going to war; we have to determine our strategy to repel the attack of the enemy and counter-attack with all the armament at our disposal.  Cancer is a fierce enemy and will likely cause us some damage, but if we persevere, load our system with the appropriate counter-measures (knowledge, understanding, appropriate treatment), and fight back, we can provide equal and more damage to that enemy and cause its retreat to eradication, or at least an armistice wherein it is held back from continuing attack.  We may not defeat it, but at the same time we don’t simply surrender to let it defeat us.  And if it ultimately does, we can at least go down knowing we had never given up and bravely fought the battle until our ammunition finally ran out.”



Dr Richard Wassersug, the co-author of an article in the Guardian about the language of cancer which took a different view, said that he respected Chuck’s right to share his opinion with others but disagreed that viewing cancer in military language was helpful. 



Joel Nowak, the administrator of the forum said:


“On an individual basis the language is not important, each of us needs to find the right language for our self.  Military language can be the best for some of us, it depends on our experiences.


What is really important for each of us is that we find a way to view our individual cancer that will allow us to become fully involved and empowered in stopping its progression.  Personal responsibility and involvement are the keys, understanding the disease so that we can sort out the information we are given and work hand-in-hand with our doctors is the goal we all strive to meet.


This is the exact reason I started [the Malecare online discussion group], it is the exact reason Chuck and many others have taken a leading role in offering ideas and why each of us either contributes or lurks.  We all want to make the best possible decision for our own situation and we want to support our brothers (and their families) so each of us has the best possible quality of life for the longest time.


How we describe it isn't as important as the simple fact that we do it.


Taking responsibility and becoming empowered together.”

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