Dec 19

Smalls steps and the cancer lottery

Yesterday, I went to work for 4 hours. I didn’t really know where anything was, lots of the products were new to be, but I still remembered how to run the cash and wrap like a pro! 4 hours was enough though. I don’t think I could have stayed one minute longer.

Then I went home and had a nap. The thing about naps is they make you feel better in that moment, but they can mess up your sleep later, because when you do nothing all the time but nap and watch tv, it makes you not very tired at 3 am.

Luckily for me, yesterday was also the annual cookie exchange at my friend’s house. I was lucky to have my personal chauffeur N drive me. So I did in fact leave my house again AFTER 7 pm and didn’t come back til 10:30. Not gonna lie, it was tiring, at one point, I did have to ask to take the annual group picture so I could leave, because I just wasn’t going to be able to stay up much longer. Me. Leaving a party early. I don’t even know who I am anymore! ┬áBut I was being reasonable. And I ended up sleeping pretty well, being so tired!

The other thing about yesterday is that it was the 3rd anniversary of the death of a friend from cancer. I thought about him all day. I thought about the words ‘fighter’ and ‘losing the battle’ and I realized that i really really hate that terminology. I didn’t fight harder than he did. I just got a luckier in the cancer lottery: found it sooner, easier to treat, better prognosis. He got the really crappy kind: found it too late, untreatable. Just like my uncle. Just like my mom.

To imply that they ‘lost their battle’ implies that there was a chance to fight better or harder. There wasn’t. They were just as brave and just as strong. I just got luckier with my cancer lotto.


PS: as an aside, in French you don’t say ‘lost the battle to cancer’. You say ‘died from cancer’ just like you would say ‘died of a heart attack’ or ‘died of complications from diabetes’. Why is it only in English and with cancer that the fight and battle words are used?


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  1. Nance

    I am sorry about the anniversary. Yea on work and party.

    I wonder if the English “fighter” comes from that stupid American concept that you can do anything. I’ve always hated those phrases as well. The losing the cancer always sounds like they didn’t try hard enough. Sigh…

  2. Mary S

    I fully agree with you about the terminology associated with cancer. I struggle every time with trying to find the words to explain what I am going through. Is it a journey? (Not one I wanted to take). Is it a battle? I think it is just life and sometimes it seems as random as a lottery because there isn’t much sense or reason as to who gets it and who doesn’t.
    Even being called a breast cancer survivor is strange. I am just dealing with the cards that life dealt me and trying to survive and get to the other side where this doesn’t have to be my reality every single day.
    Glad to hear that you went to work, had some fun and then went home to nap. Naps are pretty fun but I can definitely relate about being up at 3 am…
    Well hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and all the best in 2014!

  3. Amy/grrlTravels

    Totally agree with the terminology issues. But it all just goes back to people being afraid of cancer (well, duh!) and wanting to make it seem more approachable and winnable in my eyes. And it is completely unfair terminology for everyone.

  4. Liz

    I have been thinking about this for some reason this week: I think that in English, or at least in America, we are so idiotic about death in general. As if it is something you can actually avoid if you do the right things. We are clearly a nation of idiots.

    I truly dislike that every obituary of someone who died of cancer mentions their battle/ fight/ struggle. It is a horrible way to look at things– and it does give people that dreadful sense that they are in some control, that if they eat/ sleep/ exercise/ worship/ believe/ talk to fairies “right” they will win.

    People don’t survive because they prayed to the right god/ ate right/ slept well/ took the right vitamins/ danced nude in the dawn or whatever. They got lucky and also did everything within their power to get through. People don’t die because they didn’t do everything right/ had the wrong attitude/ ate the wrong foods/ prayed to the wrong god.

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