** A post on a serious topic which may prove triggering and upsetting for some people - trigger warnings : Cancer, death **
Listening to a podcast yesterday whilst out and about, a guest was being interviewed and got onto the subject of people with cancer. “Of course...” she said “some of them battle it just brilliantly and pull through, and others, well, don’t...” I waited for her to continue with something along the lines of, don’t make it in spite of everything, but no, she stopped where the quotation finishes above, and went casually on with her conversation. I was totally knocked sideways, and then utterly UTTERLY incandescent with rage.
I’ve lost two close friends to cancer in the past few years, and, some years earlier, my lovely Great Uncle Bob. Lesley had breast cancer - she underwent extensive treatment, surgery and chemotherapy and thought she had it on the run, getting the all-clear for several years before it came back to have another go. She fought alright - the cancer fought harder though. Paula battled for years - countless surgeries, radiotherapy, chemo (long term) - to ensure she got as many years with her son as possible as he was growing up - she eventually died just a few months short of his 21st birthday. Ironically it was as much as anything else her weakened health due to all the treatment that killed her in the end - in other words her “battling” proved too much for her. As for Bob, he was repeatedly misdiagnosed in the first instance - what turned out to be bone cancer being dismissed as muscular damage and even a possible stress fracture I believe until finally the right scans were done and someone said “oops...”. Surgery was not appropriate for his particular cancer - he had radiotherapy and chemo though - his chemo being a spectacularly miserable few months for him - but still he continued and bought himself a precious extra 18 months to spend with my Great Aunt getting his affairs in order and ticking a few “must do” items off what would have been a bucket list had those been a thing then. Had he been diagnosed sooner we would very likely have had him for substantially longer - but even when he knew that all he was doing was extending his life, not saving it, he still chose to fight on.
And THIS is what makes me so damned ANGRY with this thoughtless woman. Presumably she feels that they all deserved to die because they “didn’t battle hard enough” or “weren’t quite as brilliant as they needed to be” Three of the VERY bravest people I have ever had the privilege to know, dismissed out of hand because some entitled journalist feels it’s ok for her to make a flippant judgement about how people deal with a cancer diagnosis.
I’ll be avoiding anything featuring the woman in the future - that’s for sure. The anger I felt kept me awake for a chunk of last night - indeed this post pretty much got written in my head during those hours. I’m not going to name her - it would benefit nobody and would simply give her more coverage than I feel she deserves, similarly I’m not going to name check the podcast either - I’d hate to think it might get any more hits as a result. Please though - be desperately careful how you word phrasing around such an emotive subject - for the most part someone’s survival of cancer has less to do with “how hard they fight” and more to do with what sort of cancer it is / how early it was diagnosed/ how effective the treatment for it is. Some people will make a conscious choice not to even HAVE any treatment beyond pain relief - should they be judged for that? I think not. Please, let’s be careful what message we put out there.