Feb 08

Missing Cancer Vocabulary

Sometimes, there are no existing words to explain what is going on. Some cancer terms people have coined are chemo-brain and Cancerland. I wrote awhile back about the fatigue I was experiencing during radiation. Fatigue was not the right word. There was no right word. Many times over the last year, I have found I don’t have the right words to explain how I feel. Seems I am not the only one. Mina was describing the way she felt at the 4 week-mark of her radiation. I knew EXACTELY what she was talking about. But there is no word for it. The closest I can come is Radiation Burn-out. You have the physical burn, but you also have the mental burn, the lack of ability to go on yet you do. Over and over. You are tired, but you can’t sleep. Your body hurts but pain meds don’t help. Radiation Burn Out. Does anyone have a better word?

Other words that are missing:

  • the extreme leg pain that is worst in the morning. I imagine this is what arthritis must feel like: heavy, tired, sore.
  • the fantom boob itching
  • the limbo period between ending treatment and hearing the words ‘no evidence of disease’

Anyone else want to chime in? What did you not have the right words for? And what words did you come up with?

PS: I read Mina’s post about her rad fatigue and started drafting this post last night. Then today, she wrote a post about Cancer Jargon. Total coincidence!


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  1. Catherine

    Sometimes I use the terms ‘blogosphere’ or ‘bcsm’ with those who don’t do social media, and I reckon it confuses the heck out of people :)

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