Is cancer, do you think, the most dreaded word in the English language? If it's not, surely it is in the top five.
Nobody wants to hear that – cancer - about themselves or anyone they love and in my case, when they first told me about my pancreatic cancer in June 2017, it took awhile for me to believe it.
People may not have noticed before but once they are diagnosed and weighing potential treatments they hear a lot about “fighting” cancer. On television commercials, at websites for support groups, on teeshirts and from other patients too. “I'm going to fight this thing,” they say. “I'm going to beat it.”
A year and a half later I'm still wondering what that means, to “fight” cancer. I can't punch it in the nose. Or chase it out of town. Perhaps I'm supposed to be extra vigilant in some secret way to keep it from killing me.
Early on in my cancer odyssey, I rejected the ubiquitous vegetable diets that promise to cure cancer, along with suspicious clinics in other countries. (Do not ever forget: if there were a cure for cancer, we would all know about it.)
I was (and still am) being treated at a world-class cancer center and I figure these doctors, nurses and surgeons know a whole lot more about cancer than I could ever learn on the internet.
So I listened to them. I still do. And I do what they tell me.
The massive Whipple surgery gave me about 10 cancer-free months before two new cancers showed up. There is nothing to help, the doctors tell me now, except chemotherapy that may delay the growth of the cancers for awhile to give me some more healthy time.
So as long as the chemo gives me more good days than bad, I'll continue with the doctors' advice. But “fight” cancer? Not me.
I still don't know what it means I should do but it sounds like it would wear me out or make me unhappy. I feel healthy still most of the time and I want to live the time I have in the best possible ways. Fighting doesn't fit that.
I'm still curious, however, about what people mean when they say that.