The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

In Search of a Better Way of Putting It

Is anyone else apart for me fed up of seeing the press lazily reach for the phrase "lost his/her battle with cancer" whenever anyone in the public eye dies after cancer treatment? It's so hackneyed and - even worse - inaccurate.   Here is an excellent argument against using the phrase, from Mary Kenny, who says everything I think but far, far better than I could.

This week I was discharged from my local Breast Care Clinic, said goodbye to my lovely consultant surgeon and his nurses and trotted off into the future with a blithe step.  I am now more than five years on from my cancer treatment and still alive, and - better yet - cancer-free, so I am one of the happy statistics, with a good outcome.  But I will not pretend for a moment that I fought a battle, or embarked on some existential quest or personal crusade.  I was diagnosed, operated upon, had radiotherapy and took hormone treatment for a few years. I didn't run a military campaign!  I was lucky - others have endured much, much more, especially if they have chemo or a series of operations, but even they didn't "fight a battle" with their malignancy, in my view.  We underwent treatment, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.  It's more a lottery than a war.

End of, as The Young like to say.

However, I suppose the press will reach for the cliche if we cannot provide them with an equally easy but more honest alternative.  "So-and-so has died of cancer..." is my favoured one.  Anyone else got any ideas?


  1. Gosh, is it that long already, Baby Sis? It's good to be past that milestone and feeling well.

    Thanks for posting the link to this really excellent article. The terminology annoys me too and every other person I know who has had cancer. I haven't battled cancer twice. I just had it and was fortunate enough to survive it. The positive thinking bit also gets right up my nose.

    'Died of cancer' gets my vote. I hate the euphemisms for death and have never used them, even in my days of taking funerals and giving pastoral care to the bereaved. Death is death and can't be airbrushed out with fuzzy words.

    PS 6 tries so far to find two word verification hurdles I can actually read!

  2. I love you Big Sis. So good to be on the same page about this, and many other things.

    It's the laziness that annoys me. Craft another sentence, oh, journalists who get paid a living to write! Preferably newly minted, please.

  3. Love you too. :-) I reckon there's a lot of much better writing in your blog and mine than in most journalism, though I don't think I'm totally immune to cliche. Mind you, I'd hate to have to write to order. So many words or column inches a day or a week. I'd probably get sloppy too, though hopefully not in my thinking.

  4. If the cancer returns and carries me off one day I'd like that lovely old phrase in my death notice; "after a long disease, bravely borne". That'll do me.

  5. I know what you mean....... it's like being told how brave you are after a bereavment, believe me there was nothing brave about my behaviour, waking up each day and having to live through it was not my first a friend of mine says, you're born, you live, you die....

  6. Hiya, Young at Heart! Apologies, have only just caught sight of your comment. Thanks for stopping by. There is too much hyperbole and sentimentality bandied about, in my view (in the press especially) about what are in fsct simple bioligical facts of life; pregnancy, childbirth, illness and death. Too much use of words like heroic and tragic. Far too much FUSS altogether. We all have times when we are truly up against it and people around us - and we ourselves - have parlously thin vocabularies for what is going on. I suppsoe intense emotion has the effect of taking the breath away, and the words with it, but I hope for better from paid writers.