Cancer isn’t a fair opponent.

Usually, when speaking about people who have cancer, it’s said they are ‘fighting’ it. And when they finally succumb, it is said that they ‘lost the fight’.

Apparently, no one realized that it isn’t a fair fight. You can’t really fight someone who stabs you in the back… A cancer cell used to be part of the body, used to be a normal cell but then it suddenly went rogue and multiplied itself, shaking off all the regulatory systems the body uses to prevent such things from happening. Cancer is the ultimate betrayal, as your own cells will turn against you, trying to take over everything.

How are you supposed to fight things you can’t even see? After all, if you’ve got to miss work or school due to the flu, no one will accuse you of not being positive enough, not fighting the virus… But cancer patients are expected to carry their burdens with happiness – if you don’t, you might not get better and then it’s your own fault if you die.

One of the most memorable patients I’ve met, was a man who survived cancer.  This man had indeed survived the fight against cancer… but he was also a veteran, a veteran of the invisible war waged within his body. And just like in other wars, these fights leave invisible scars.

Contrary to our expectations, he wasn’t really happy that he had survived. Yes, he was glad to be alive and to be able to see his grandchildren,  but on the other hand, he felt like he couldn’t trust his body anymore. The chemotherapy treatments really took everything he still had left – he didn’t have energy anymore for simple things like enjoying a walk, doing household work. And what would prevent another bunch of cells going rogue? There was no way to say whether all cancer cells had truly gone. He felt like a time bomb.

Cancer is really like that. You can’t really fight it. You can only try to hold on and hope you’ll pull through, that the medication kills the cancer before it kills you.

People who are killed by cancer aren’t losers.


One Comment on “Cancer isn’t a fair opponent.”

  1. So true. Positive thinking is good, but not when people end up feeling like failures because they could not cure their cancers with their positive imagery and thoughts. Or even worse, feeling like they must be a terrible negative person if they have a recurrence after being in remission.

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