Why I hate the expression "losing the battle with cancer"

@boiboing (12439)
Northampton, England
January 15, 2016 1:27pm CST
It's been a terrible week for cancer deaths this week. Well realistically it's probably been no different than any other week in terms of how many people died, but it's certainly been a week for celebrity cancer deaths. I woke one morning to the death of David Bowie, came home a few days later to learn that Alan Rickman had passed away, and today my Facebook news tells me that poor Celine Dion's husband has died too. In the middle of all of that, I went to the funeral of my friend who also had cancer. I'm a member of a thyroid cancer support group and we've been chatting on Facebook about this glut of bad news. One woman raised the issue we all share; our hatred of all the ridiculous cliches around cancer death. I particular, we all loathe the 'he/she lost his/her battle with cancer' cliche most of all. People who die with cancer aren't losers or failures. They didn't stop trying, give in, or not care enough to stay alive. To say that someone with cancer lost their battle with the disease is as pointless as saying that someone who falls off a cliff has lost their battle with gravity or someone killed in a car crash lost their battle with a truck coming the opposite way. The news media are prone to over-using tired old worn-out cliches and I'm sure it's not their intention to piss people off but undeniably they do. The time is long overdue for reporters and writers to drop the old battle analogy and come up with something better; ideally something that doesn't come with such a nasty whiff of failure.
24 people like this
15 responses
• United States
15 Jan 16
Losing the battle with cancer doesn't infer that the person gave up, not to me anyway. My father lost the battle of pancreatic cancer. He isn't a failure, he was warrior.
4 people like this
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
15 Jan 16
Of course he wasn't a failure - that's my point. But the term 'lost the battle with cancer' offends a lot of us who have or have had cancer as well as a lot of people who've lost love ones. It's time to change the terminology.
4 people like this
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
15 Jan 16
@AbbyGreenhill Pancreatic is a terrible and highly dangerous cancer and one that only 1% of people survive 10 years and many don't make one year - like your poor father. I'm sorry for your loss.
2 people like this
@xFiacre (4427)
• Ireland
15 Jan 16
@boiboing The cliché conjures up some strange images in my mind - pistols at dawn is one.
2 people like this
@MALUSE (40086)
• Germany
15 Jan 16
I like that, of course.
2 people like this
@just4him (116780)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
15 Jan 16
I agree. It is a bad, tired, cliche and needs to be put to rest.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
15 Jan 16
Thank you - I'm glad that somebody understands me.
2 people like this
@much2say (39155)
• United States
15 Jan 16
That is true - it's certainly not the best way to say what we already know - it can be insensitive. And I think the media knows this - they suck us into our stories any way they can - they will try to grip our hearts with words that tug on our emotions.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
15 Jan 16
I have friends who've given interviews about cancer and had their stories really badly twisted to make them more dramatic and more interesting for the readers. It's totally inappropriate.
2 people like this
@much2say (39155)
• United States
16 Jan 16
@boiboing I've heard of that happening - not just with cancer stories, but with other interviewed stories as well. That just shows there must be a lot of garbage out there, so everyone needs to be careful about what they read, especially online!
@amadeo (65694)
• United States
15 Jan 16
I do not find this offensive at all.The person did lose his battle.How would you described it.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
15 Jan 16
I think my post already explains why I don't think it's an appropriate expression. I'm not going to explain it again.
• United States
16 Jan 16
@boiboing thank you for bringing this bit of insensitivity into the public eye.
1 person likes this
@gudheart (12752)
16 Jan 16
It can be interpreted in different ways. I know way too many people that lost their life due to it :( I know what you mean though.
1 person likes this
@Jessicalynnt (47854)
• Centralia, Missouri
16 Jan 16
well it was a battle, and it has always felt to me that the one's truly paying the loss are the one's left to grieve
1 person likes this
@paigea (22197)
• Canada
15 Jan 16
I never thought of it that way. Interesting.
1 person likes this
@amnabas (10282)
• Karachi, Pakistan
15 Jan 16
Yes we often use this phrase but I guess going through this severe disease itself is a huge battle.
1 person likes this
@Fleura (7191)
• United Kingdom
31 Jan 16
I love the idea of losing the battle with gravity! I guess we all do that all the time!
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
31 Jan 16
Some parts of me lost both the battle with gravity and the battle with elasticity some time ago.
1 person likes this
@Fleura (7191)
• United Kingdom
31 Jan 16
@boiboing We're all losing the battle with time too!
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (118231)
• Boise, Idaho
16 Jan 16
Losing that battle is horrible. I lost both parents and many of my BFF's. Now Celine, and these others have to go through this awful business. The other day a person who had posted a similar post on here said that cancer was a normal way to die. That statement unnerved me. I see nothing natural about dying from cancer.
@celticeagle (118231)
• Boise, Idaho
16 Jan 16
@boiboing ...When I think of cancer I think of both my parents, emaciated and not in their right minds. To me that is not normal at all.
1 person likes this
@jstory07 (66977)
• Roseburg, Oregon
16 Jan 16
No matter what term you use. It still a sad thing and loss of good life's.
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
16 Jan 16
Very true.
@gemmsky (170)
• United Kingdom
15 Jan 16
I completely, 100% agree with you!
@boiboing (12439)
• Northampton, England
15 Jan 16
Thank you so much.
1 person likes this